ITHACA N.Y. — After nearly a year of efforts, Ithaca was approved at long last to welcome refugees.

Fifty refugees will now be able to move to Ithaca beginning in early 2017.

“It’s just nice to know that (with) the work that we put behind it so far, we can now move forward with the final approval,” said Renee Spear, executive director of Catholic Charities of Tompkins and Tioga Counties.

Related: What does it take to come to Ithaca as a refugee?

The approval — formally made two days ago by the Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration — marks the first time the organization will be a resettlement office.

Spear confirmed that the refugees will come from eight countries that have been pre-approved to come to Ithaca: Syria, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bhutan, Burma, Ukraine, Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan. The list is based on languages already spoken within our community and current, settled, populations from those regions.

Spear previously told The Voice that Catholic Charities will receive $2,025 per person.  This is broken down as $900 per refugee arrival for administration and $1,125 per refugee for “client direct” assistance. This money comes from the State Department (PRM) as part of the “Reception and Placement Program” that covers the first 90 days’ costs of resettling each refugee.

Related: Road to Refuge: a new grassroots movement welcomes refugees to Ithaca

Spear said CCTT is not sure when exactly the first refugees will arrive. But she said that the organization has been preparing for their arrival, ensuring translators are available, housing is ready, and schools are able to work with young refugees.

“We’re very excited that we got the final approval,” she said.

Featured Photo: Sayeed looks over the fields at Lively Run Farm in Interlaken. Photo by Benjamin Torrey/The Ithaca Voice

Melissa Whitworth’s previous reporting contributed to this story.