Much ado has been made about the global refugee crisis, as well as the policies aimed to either help or bar refugees from resettlement. While the Trump Administration has done its best to limit refugee resettlement in the US, there are some regions of this country that remain hospitable— and given they have the real estate to fill, and benefits to reap, why not?
According to the New York Times, regions in New York state have reported that in influx of refugees have helped to revitalize communities by filling empty homes and storefronts and stimulating suffering economies. Of the 5,000 refugees New York accepted last fiscal year, 95 percent settled in upstate communities. Their gravitation to these areas was fortuitous for the refugees, who found low prices and jobs waiting; at the same time, their relocation has been a salve for cities suffering from population crises.
Buffalo, which has placed 100,000 refugees, has lived up to its nickname “The City of Good Neighbors” for this very reason. Burdened by an exodus of residents after losing keystone businesses, cities like Buffalo have been revitalized by newcomers, who make up a strong and stable immigrant population.
It’s true that an influx of refugees, some up-front costs follow in terms of government spending on immediate assistance. But economists estimate that the long-term gains make up for this quickly, as refugees are likely to stay rooted and contribute to the economy. For places facing population decline, the facts are clear: refugees are more of a boon to economic development than a burden.
Of course, in bigger metropolises like New York City population decline is not an issue. But NYC is not a stranger to immigrants or refugees. In 2015, Mayor De Blasio pledged to work with local institutions to place incoming refugees. Since the 2016 election, companies like Airbnb are filling empty real estate with refugees in need in NYC and beyond—once again, to mutual benefit, in this case to the company’s PR.
It seems clear that refugees are not only in need, but have value to provide, especially in areas with real estate to fill and jobs to spare. But if the new administration’s agenda proceeds as planned, it may be that cities like Buffalo continue to stagnate or decline.