Springfield mayor upset about refugee settlement in city

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Springfield’s mayor said enough is enough! Mayor Domenic Sarno sent out a news release, after learning that several refugee families are set to arrive in the city this week.

In his release, Sarno cited the resettlement agency, Jewish Family Services of Western Massachusetts, saying “once again, these resettlement agencies, with no prior contact or coordination effort with our City departments, uses our Springfield as their ‘designated resettlement site.’”

Sarno says that he feels for these refugees, but the city has its own homelessness issues to deal with.

“You cannot continue to concentrate poverty on top of poverty. You’ll never be able to dig yourself out of a hole. So I have budget strains already,” Sarno told 22News.

The mayor went on to say that six to seven months of follow-through efforts from agencies with these families is inadequate, and leaves them without any structure. Sarno said it falls on the city’s neighborhoods and schools, and he is asking for more accountability.

Jewish Family Services resettled 3,100 refugees in this region between 2011 and 2015. They have not returned our calls.


Below is Mayor Sarno’s entire statement regarding the refugee issue:

Once again, these resettlement agencies with no prior contact and/or coordination efforts with our city departments, use our Springfield as their “designated resettlement site”. Yet when these resettlement agencies are asked to assist these families in need in their own cities and/or towns – they state they do not have the capacity. Maybe they should try to create their own capacity. As the Boston Federal Reserve Report of 2011 stated – you cannot continue to concentrate poverty on top of poverty. They don’t put their money where their mouth is and their assertion of six to nine months of follow-through efforts with these families in need has proven to be inadequate. Important questions to ask:

  1. How many refugees are actually coming to the City of Springfield?
  2. Are these families being housed in condemned units, as has been done in the past?
  3. Are these families in need of school and health services?
  4. Are there proper translation services being provided?
  5. Are there proper long term wrap around services and follow through?
  6. Are there proper transportation services being provided?
  7. Are there proper employment placement plans?
  8. Are there adequate cultural adjustment strategies being provided?
  9. Who is paying our city for these additional and supplemental services, which continue to put a strain on our city and school budgets?

Again, our Springfield is a caring city, but these are basic questions that deserve to be answered. We have done more than our fair share when it comes to dealing with homelessness, refugees and subsidized housing. As I have continued to state to federal and state government officials, enough is enough.

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