What to know about Refugee Services of Texas' closure
Refugee Services of Texas, the state’s largest resettlement agency, announced last week it was closing after 45 years. KERA’s Stella Chavez spoke with Justin Martin about the latest developments.
On May 10, Refugee Services of Texas announced that it was dealing with a severe budget deficit.
It said it received a record number of refugees during the past 18 months and that expenses exceeded its budget.
It dipped into its financial reserves, closed two offices, cut staff and paused new refugee arrivals, but last week RST said that wasn’t enough to keep it from permanently closing all of its offices statewide.
The agency has offices in Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, Harlingen and Houston.
How does federal funding work?
The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program, which falls under the State Department, allocates a certain amount of funding – $2,375 per refugee – to local resettlement agencies or affiliates.
Part of that amount pays for rent, food and clothing, and the rest is used to pay for things like helping clients enroll their child in school or find a job.
The resettlement agency and their affiliates, however, must supplement those dollars with donations, help from volunteers, fundraising and grants.
What happens now to all of RST’s clients?
All of RST’s clients are being referred to other resettlement agencies around the state.
For example, Episcopal Migration Ministries, a national refugee resettlement agency in Austin, is taking on clients there.
Church World Service, another national refugee resettlement agency, is taking over the offices Amarillo and Dallas.
San Antonio clients will be assisted by other resettlement agencies in that city.
What about RST employees who lost their jobs?
150 employees were affected by the closure.
Some of those employees have been hired by other resettlement agencies and others are looking for work at other agencies or elsewhere.
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