SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Mayor Domenic Sarno says Springfield is in "crisis mode." He said there are too many refugees depleting the city's resources.
The 22News I-Team discovered the inhumane conditions some of them are living in.
"My parents immigrated here, I'm all for, we're a caring city but enough is enough." Mayor Domenic Sarno says there are hundreds of refugees living in Springfield, hardly any in surrounding communities and its depleting the city's resources.
They need warm coats in the winter, health services and more. "Also with the school system, there's one translator it is not fair and the thing is it's taxing my services on it," Sarno said.
The Springfield School Department provided 22News with these records that show the number of refugee students goes up significantly every school year.
The city claims religious groups like Jewish Family Services and Lutheran Social Services place the refugees, sometimes in deplorable conditions.
City inspectors say they're getting to these properties and finding them in terrible condition. Take for example this one that had rotted roof shingles, has no hot running water and is infested with bugs.
The 22News I-Team obtained some of the city's inspection reports it shows every year people are moving in from Somalia, Iran and Iraq to name a few and in many cases, their homes deemed unsuitable for human habitation.
Lutheran Social Services responded , denying they place anyone in uninhabitable residences or unsafe conditions and regularly monitors its clients:
“Lutheran Social Services of New England (LSS) recognizes the City of Springfield as a supportive partner in humanitarian programs that help resettle refugees fleeing from unsafe homelands. Over the years, we have developed a solid working relationship with the City of Springfield and its various departments to successfully resettle newcomers to the Greater Springfield area.
LSS is aware of Mayor Sarno’s recent concerns about refugee housing conditions, and we have investigated the properties in question. LSS does not place any refugees in uninhabitable residences or unsafe conditions, and regularly monitors its clients during their resettlement period. Currently, LSS resettles less than 40 percent of its refugee clients to the City of Springfield.
We also want to acknowledge that several statements made in Mayor Sarno’s letter to Barbara Day in the U.S. State Department are inaccurate. LSS will respond to these statements in a letter with supporting facts sent to the Mayor’s office. We will continue to work collaboratively with local and state authorities to identify the best possible solutions for the City and its refugee families.”
Springfield became a "settlement city" many years ago and Sarno says it's time for a change. "I'm not trying to be cold hearted here but I have to think of the future of the city moving forward."
Superintendent Daniel J. Warwick issued this statement:
“I fully support Mayor Sarno in his effort to seek relief for the City of Springfield from the continuous and increasing influx of refugee and immigrant populations. For Springfield Public Schools, in particular, those increases place additional pressure and demands on resources that are already strained by issues that are inherent to a poor urban school district such as ours."
The State Department also responded with the following statement:
"We have not yet received correspondence from the Mayor of Springfield regarding the refugee resettlement program.
The State Department works in close coordination with local service providers and elected officials to ensure a community has the resources to serve refugees. We are thankful for communities like Springfield, along with others across the United States, for hosting resettled refugees who have fled dangerous and difficult circumstances.
We are currently reviewing refugee resettlement programming for FY 2014 and will take Mayor Sarno's feedback into account."