Refugees & Immigrants

Over 12,300 refugees and immigrants who settled in Buffalo Niagara in the past five years live in or near poverty. This represents 67% of recent arrivals living in or near poverty. About 25% live in poverty, while 42% live on incomes above but near the poverty level. Many face communication barriers and traveling difficulty and lack the skills needed for higher-paying work. Recent refugees and immigrants are more likely to be poor than native-born parents even though they are just as likely to have a college education.

Click here to learn more about the income levels for individuals and families living in or near poverty.

12,300+ recent refugees and immigrants in Buffalo Niagara live in or near poverty.

The poverty rate for refugees and immigrants increased more than for any other vulnerable population in Buffalo Niagara between 2011 and 2017.

Voices from the Community

Here from Bangladesh, a family achieves the American dream despite challenges and barriers.


Naomi lives with her husband and two children on a quiet, tree-lined street in Buffalo. They recently bought their home at an auction for the price of a new car. She lives a mile from the hospital where she works in housekeeping, but that’s more than 7,700 miles from where she grew up in Bangladesh. They came here less than three years ago. When her mother passed away back in 2017, they sold the plot of land her mom owned and used that money to buy their home. “We were sick of paying rent.” They were also determined to transform a long-abandoned house into a home with a garden in back.

Naomi earned a master’s degree and worked as a teacher back home, but the wages were paltry. “There I owned two dresses. Here I have many.” She truly loves her job at the hospital, simply thankful for the opportunity. “My English is horrible. My accent is different, my pronunciation hard to understand.” She says she wants to advance but needs to work on her language skills.

She is also working to get a driver’s license. She’s taken the test over 10 times but still hasn’t passed. “I know everything but get too scared.” Her commute to work is half an hour by bus, but walking home from the bus stop around midnight in the dark isn’t always pleasant. Some days she runs home, frightened by comments from people drinking outside their homes. Focusing on the future keeps her going. So does being a proud mom. Both of her children excel at school and her son passed his driver’s test on the first try.

“I’d like to advance but need to build up my language skills. I’m learning every day.”

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