Plan for Syrian refugees to relocate to Northampton part of growing trend statewide

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – More than 50 Syrian refugees are expected to relocate to the city of Northampton in the coming year. 22News discovered the resettlement is part of a growing trend across the state.

The number of Syrian refugees in Massachusetts has continued to increase in recent years. According to state data, no Syrian refugees relocated to Massachusetts in 2011, but there were 3 in 2012, 6 in 2013, 23 in 2014, and 88 in 2015.

City Councilors held a special meeting at JFK Middle School in Northampton on Monday, to discuss the plan to have dozens of Syrian refugees relocate to Northampton over the next year.

City Councilor Alisa Klein told 22News the resettlement was recently approved by the State Department. She said the Catholic Charities Agency is now in charge of helping the 51 Syrian refugees relocate to the city.

The agency wants the process to start as early as next month, but the city is asking them for more time. They’d like to see the first few refugee families to arrive in December or January, giving the city extra time to hammer out details, including housing and employment.

Klein said the City Council and Catholic Charities Agency are also asking families in the area to volunteer to help the refugees adjust to their new lives. “We have kind of determined that there are four main categories that we need community engagement in, including a general volunteer category. That would include all of those little things like transportation, helping people navigate on different systems, and taking them grocery shopping,” she said.

Councilor Klein said they expect the refugee families to arrive two at a time, over the next year. “The refugees won’t all arrive at once, we will probably get two families at a time, over the fiscal year until October 2017,” she said.

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