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Bloomington federally authorized as resettlement site for refugees

WFIU/WTIU file photo

A resettlement organization that helps refugees establish their lives in Indiana announced Bloomington was approved as a federally authorized resettlement site by the U.S. Department of State.

Called Exodus Refugee, the group helps refugees integrate into society by paying for the first three months of rent, helping in the job search, and helping set up their apartment up with necessities.

Some long-term services include psychological services, English language lessons, and help preparing for the citizenship test.

Elizabeth Cullen Dunn, a board member of Exodus, said having federal authorization will allow people who have no connection to Bloomington settle here.

“So I think it's really great that we have a way now of bringing new people in and resettling them to become a part of Bloomington,” she said.

Dunn said Exodus was originally anticipating 300 refugees to be resettled in Bloomington in the program’s first year. That number may be higher because of Afghan resettlement camps, like Camp Atterbury.

When those refugees will arrive depends on when refugees finished receiving vaccines, Dunn said. Vaccinations were administered at Camp Atterbury for COVID-19, measles, mumps, rubella and chicken pox to more than 6,100 refugees between Sept. 6 and 17.

Refugees must stay at Camp Atterbury for at least three weeks after their last vaccination, Dunn said.

Background checks by four federal agencies must also be complete, she said.

When refugees arrive in Bloomington, Bloomington residents can also help by joining welcome teams. Welcome teams are typically organized in groups of 10 people who are assigned to a refugee family for a year, Dunn said.

“They’re going to need friends, they’re going to need people who can explain to them how the system works,” she said.

Anyone can also help Exodus’ efforts by donating money to the group, which can be used for each family’s individual needs.