Job and housing preparation underway for relocation of refugees

Northampton City Hall on Main Street. WWLP file image.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The preparation is underway for the relocation of 51 refugees to Northampton. These refugees will need a job and a place to stay, all while learning how to speak English. They’ll arrive by January.

“Well they will have to assimilate into the community,” said Terry Low of Longmeadow. “I think if people look for help, they can get assistance whether it’s through the government or through private people are enterprise. There’s a lot of good community support out here.”

Coordinating agency Catholic Charities told 22News they’re counting on community generosity. On Monday, they’ll gather landlords, building managers and anyone who has living space available at Northampton City Hall.

The goal is to negotiate on behalf of refugees low or rent-free living of at least one year. Catholic Charities says they help subsidize some of the rent if necessary.

For many of these refugees, the first stop on their journey to become an American citizen will be at the Franklin / Hampshire Career Center, where they will work with them to be able to get a job. Programs Director Lisa Lapierre told 22News jobs and housing go hand in hand.

“Employment certainly is the first step in terms of housing stability. Having that income that will afford a rent in this area. Minimum wage jobs really won’t afford that rent so we are looking at putting people into career ladders where people have an opportunity for increased vocational skills and increased wages,” said Lapierre.

The career center will be working on getting translation services and making English language learning accessible for the refugees.

The refugees will each get a one-time stipend of $1,125. Catholic Charities says the average rent for a Northampton apartment is $1,200 for a one bedroom, 15-hundred dollars for two bedroom and 18-hundred dollars for a three bedroom.

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