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Jewish Community Alliance becomes second refugee resettlement agency in Maine

A building sits on an empty street under clear blue skies.
Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine
The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine will resettle refugees through a partnership with the national group HIAS.

Maine has a new federally approved refugee resettlement agency. The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine could begin working with refugees as soon as next month.

The JCA has been approved to work with up to 125 refugees over the next year, joining Catholic Charities Maine as the second resettlement agency in the state.

The JCA could welcome their first arrivals in December, but executive director Molly Curren Rowles said it may take some time to get up to speed.

"We hope that we'll be able to start in December," she said. "But we'll have to see how things develop. We want to make sure that we've built capacity so that we're really fully ready."

Rowles added that one of the biggest challenges will be finding affordable housing for the new arrivals.

"Certainly ensuring that housing is available will be a major focus," she said. "Because there is such a challenge with housing in the immediate Portland area, for example."

Rowles said the JCA may look for housing in smaller communities such as Brunswick and Bath.

The Alliance is the latest partner for the international resettlement agency HIAS, which was founded in 1881 to assist Jews fleeing violence in Eastern Europe. HIAS now works with refugees from all over the world.