Tampa Bay is home to the largest refugee community in the state of Florida other than Miami-Dade.
In 2016, Tampa Bay received 5,947 new arrivals and in 2015 we received 4,351. Although the majority of these new arrivals were Cuban Entrants, many others came through traditional refugee resettlement from war-torn countries like Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria.
Although some of the refugee families are resettled in Pinellas County, 75% of all new arrivals move to Tampa, where they live near USF and in Temple Terrace due to low cost housing.
When refugees arrive in Tampa Bay, they have a limited amount of funding that is allocated for them to begin their new lives here. Refugee resettlement is funded by the State Department and allows for $1,025.00 for each family member which has to pay for rental and utility deposits, pay for the first few months of rent and fill the new apartment/house with furniture and household items.
At least half of the refugees arriving in Tampa are children under the age of 18. The key populations arriving to our community are from Cuba, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Iraq and Syria. The refugees chosen to be resettled here in the United States are the most vulnerable, meaning that most refugee families who arrive have at least one family with serious medical issues and/or are single parent families.
There are three resettlement agencies in Tampa who meet these newly arriving families at the airport and get them settled into their new home. These agencies work closely with the families for the first 30-90 days. The Florida Department of Children and Families Refugee Services department funds local programs including adult education, employment, childcare and a youth mentoring program for the first 5 years after a family arrives.
The Tampa Bay Refugee Task Force, a coalition of agencies, faith communities and community volunteers meets on a quarterly basis to coordinate and oversee the refugee resettlement and integration process. Due to the advocacy of the Task Force, Hillsborough County officially joined a national movement by Welcoming America by becoming the first Welcoming County for refugees in the state of Florida.
Through volunteering, gathering needed donations and supporting the local refugee services providers, PCPC is able to truly make a difference in the lives of refugee families in Tampa.
More information about how to get involved is available at: www.palmaceia.org/refugee-ministry