Boise was built by immigrants and has been a refugee resettlement community since the early 1980s. Today, Boise, through the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (learn more about the resettlement process here), provides a home to more than 700 refugees arriving in Idaho, often escaping persecution and war, many wishing to find economic opportunity and build a better life. In an effort to identify and improve resources for refugee resettlement, the City of Boise and the Idaho Office for Refugees joined forces in 2009 to create Neighbors United. This collaborative initiative is supported by over 100 community organization leaders, policy makers, service agency representatives, resettled refugees, volunteers, educators, and more, all working together to provide and improve services critical to the successful integration of refugees in the community. These include:
In response, the City of Boise and the Idaho Office for Refugees convened a roundtable of community partners and resettlement agencies. The goals: to understand the resettlement process, determine how refugees and resettlement agencies define successful resettlement, and explore opportunities to increase the services essential to that success.
The roundtable led to the creation of the Refugee Community Plan, now Neighbors United, to develop short and long-term goals in each focus area (Education, Employment, Health, Housing, Social Integration, and Transportation) and assign action items to community partners for the successful resettlement of refugees in Boise. The Plan has already resulted in catalyzing creative community partnerships, such as the Village Van with ValleyRide, Global Talent Idaho with the Idaho Office for Refugees and JANNUS, and Stronger Shines the Light Inside, a photography project partially funded by a grant from the City of Boise Department of Arts and History.