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Refugee Resettlement Assistance

Washington State has a long history of providing services and support to refugees. Our state was the first to respond to President Gerald Ford’s call for assistance for refugees in May 1975.

At that time, Governor Dan Evans made an initial commitment to resettle 500 refugees from Southeast Asia.  They were provided temporary shelter at Camp Murray near Tacoma.

Since that time, Washington continues to be ranked as one of the top ten resettlement states in the U.S.


Meeting Basic Needs

The Refugee Resettlement Assistance program helps newly arrived refugees understand their new communities and access available services to meet daily basic needs such as food, shelter, and safety.

Our network of service providers can provide refugees and immigrants with information and referrals to:

  • Low-income, subsidized, or public housing.
  • Utility discount programs to help pay for utility bills.
  • Schedule appointments with medical and legal professionals.
  • Assist with school and child care enrollment.
  • Help with class enrollment for English as a Second Language, General Education Development, or skills training.
  • Connect with family violence programs and shelters.

Our service providers can also help refugee and immigrant families with elderly or disabled family members:

  • Find nursing care and home healthcare options.
  • Obtain para-transit transportation assistance.
  • Find senior center and meal site locations.

Immigration Assistance

We offer refugees and immigrants assistance with completing United States Citizenship and Immigration Services applications to:

  • Change immigration status to legal permanent resident after a year in the U.S.
  • Obtain employment authorization to be able to start working.
  • Renew or replace a lost permanent resident card.
  • Help elderly or disabled refugees apply for naturalization.

Home Management Workshops

In addition, some service providers offer cultural orientation information to individuals through structured bilingual workshops that educate and teach refugees on how to access local resources and services on their own.

The Department of Social and Health Services have many other programs and services to help refugees and immigrants meet basic needs. To learn more, click here for information on DSHS services and how to apply for public benefits.

ORIA Program Manager Contact Information:

N. Nketia Mensah

(206) 568-5795

nana.mensah@dshs.wa.gov