GREENSBORO, N.C. – Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas will close its program offering resettlement services to refugees in the Triad, effective June 30, with services for new arrivals suspended effective immediately.
The Raleigh-based agency, which says it cannot keep the program going because of the recession, will focus its resettlement resources on its refugee offices in Raleigh and in Columbia, S.C.
The decision, which ends a program that began in 1979 and has served thousands of refugees, was made jointly by Lutheran Family Services, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, and the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration of the U.S. State Department.
“This is a financial decision driven by the current economic conditions that have affected the program’s sustainability at this site,” the agency says in a statement. “We all hold as highest priority the best interests of our clients.”
It says it will serve its current Greensboro clients through June as it begins to link them with other resettlement agencies in the community.
In a separate statement, the Guilford Refugee Advisory Council says it is “saddened by the news that the long-running refugee services program” at Luther Family Services is closing, a move the council said will result in a “tremendous loss” for the community.
“Our number one priority is to support our refugee neighbors through this transition and to continue to build a network of collaboration and community support for the successful integration of the most vulnerable among us,” the council says.
The council is a collaborative advisory board made up of Guilford County-based service providers that work with refugees.
Members include Church World Service, African Services Coalition, Luther Family Services, World Relief, Faith Action International House, and the Center for New North Carolinians at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.
Founded in 1976, Lutheran Family Services in the Carolinas serves children in crisis; adults with special needs; refugees; and individuals and families at risk of becoming homeless or struggling to recover from disaster.