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Mayor Domenic Sarno's Letter to Refugee Service Providers 8-21-2013

Mayor Domenic Sarno's Letter to Refugee Service Providers 8-21-2013

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Published by MassLive2
Mayor's letter to refugee service providers
Mayor's letter to refugee service providers

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Published by: MassLive2 on Aug 21, 2013
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08/28/2013

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T
HE
C
ITY OF
S
PRINGFIELD,
M
ASSACHUSETTS
M
AYOR
D
OMENIC
J
.
S
ARNO
 HOME OF THE BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME 
City of Springfield • 36 Court Street • Springfield, MA 01103-1687 • (413) 787-6100
 
August 21, 2013Jewish Family Services-Western Mass Lutheran Social Services1160 Dickinson St 593 Main StSpringfield, MA 01108 Springfield, MA 01089Catholic Charities Agency65 Elliot StreetSpringfield, MA 01105
Sent Via Electronic Mail
Dear Service Providers:In preparation for our upcoming meeting scheduled for August 28, and in the spirit of cooperation, Iwanted to take this opportunity to set forth the issues that the City of Springfield is concerned aboutrelative to the ongoing settlement of refugees, and to request information that will allow our meeting tobe both efficient and productive. It is my hope that the information being sought by my office will bemade available for review prior to sitting down together on the 28
th
, and I look forward to workingtogether to responsibly develop a plan to resolve what has become a serious matter of public safety.In order to properly evaluate the data that corresponds to the settlement of and services provided torefugees in Springfield, I renew my request for all proposals, abstracts and informational documentationsubmitted by or on behalf of local settlement agencies, including the exact number of individuals settledin Springfield since 2010, and the numbers of refugees settled in Western Massachusetts during thesame time period, broken down by community and country of origin.
 
 
I have received some explanation of what services are provided to the refugees in the first 90 days, but Iwould like a clearer sense of exactly what transitional assistance is provided to the refugees in thefollowing areas:1.
 
Cash assistance; both initial and more long-term;2.
 
Case management services3.
 
Employment readiness and search services4.
 
Adult English Language Assistance5.
 
Educational support for children6.
 
Medical Assistance; is there any ongoing support beyond applying for public insurancebenefits7.
 
Psychological counseling8.
 
Peer support groups9.
 
Housing selection and support servicesI have invited a representative of the Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants to attend.Under the provisions of Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 6, §207, the Massachusetts Office for Refugees andImmigrants is authorized, among other things: to plan, coordinate, monitor, and administer programsthat provide transitional assistance to refugees and immigrants and that lead to durable self-sufficiency,and to ascertain the needs of local communities with significant populations of refugees and immigrantsand to work with local officials and community-based organizations to address those needs, to increasethe availability and utilization of qualified interpreter services, to enter into agreements or contracts withother public or private agencies or units of local, county, or state government for the delivery and/orcoordination of services to refugees and immigrants or for other statutorily-authorized purposes and tothe office, to administer federal monies received by the commonwealth for services to refugees andimmigrants, to impose reasonable charges for any services rendered or materials furnished.It is my hope that a representative from the State will be able to meet to discuss how best to utilize theauthority of that office to address concerns of the residents of the City of Springfield. In addition to the foregoing, I am also requesting that the service providers supply the City with anydocumentation submitted to theOffice for Refugees and Immigrantsor U.S. State Department indicatingand corresponding to the applicable criteria used to select what communities refugees are placed in. Iwould like to obtain a copy of any documents indicating whether the criteria includes a review of thenumber of refugees already placed in a given community, and whether there is some attempt to measurethe impact on the host community of significant number of refugees living at or below the poverty lineon a communities resources?For example, is any determination, consideration, or evaluation made as to the local government’scapacity to absorb refugees who have been traumatized by tragic events in their lives and the localpublic agencies for a host community within that jurisdiction? The City of Springfield currently haslimited capacity to provide social services to meet the existing needs of the community's currentresidents. The estimated median household income for Springfield in 2011 was $32,124 while medianhousehold income for the state is estimated at $62, 859. Springfield has a large percentage of its existingpopulation living below the poverty level, and has insufficient resources available to make available to

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