Rising Immigrant and Refugee Population in Central Ohio Shows Need for Help


Data: American Community Survey/US Census Bureau; Graphic: Will Chase/Axios

Local officials are rolling out a new plan today to better accommodate immigrants and refugees settling in the Columbus area.

why is it important: Central Ohio has more foreign-born residents than any other area in the state, according to census data, and that population continues to grow.

By the numbers: Approximately 150,000 residents of Franklin County (11% of the population) were born outside the United States, the highest total of any county in Ohio.

  • This percentage is even higher in Columbus — 12.8%.
  • Statewide, only 4.6% of Ohio residents were foreign born.

State of play: Local governments are partnering with many nonprofits to help these residents navigate life in a new city, including Columbus’ “New American Initiative” .

  • Aid has intensified in recent years, between emergency rental aid during the pandemic and support for Afghan refugees.

Yes, but: Our immigrant population still faces a variety of obstacles in navigating a complex web of social services, according to researchers at Ohio State University who study the initiative found in 2018.

  • Besides the language barrier – about one in six Columbus residents speaks a language other than English at home – there are documentary, monetary and technological obstacles to overcome.

What they say : Another frequent problem is the lack of bilingual services for medical and mental health care.

  • “I hope the final plan will set out concrete steps, with funding to support them, so that even better integration is possible,” Angie Plummer, executive director of local group Community Refugee & Immigration Services, told Axios.

And after: We’ll bring you more details tomorrow after the noon announcement.

Data: American Community Survey/US Census Bureau; Map: Will Chase/Axios

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