Hundreds of refugees will resettle in Hampden County in 2017

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Northampton isn’t the only community getting resettled refugees. About 350 refugees will be resettled in Hampden County this year by Ascentria Care Alliance of Westfield; 30% of them are already here.

They come mainly from the former Soviet Union areas of Ukraine and Maldova, but also from Iraq, Somalia, the Congo and Syria.

Over the years, the number of refugees that have resettled in the United States have gone up. From 20,000 in 2015 to 85,000 in 2016 to 110,000 resettled in 2017, many of them in western Massachusetts.

The refugees will begin their new life in Westfield, Chicopee, West Springfield and Springfield. Ascentria told 22News they come with official refugee status by the government and are carefully vetted.

“There’s a lot of places in this world where bad things are happening. People are being left out in the cold, there’s no food. It’s just right as a human, never mind as an American to be there. Be that beacon of light, be that help for people who need it,” said Adam Perusse of Beckett.

Ascentria works with landlords to negotiate low rent. They also provide 90 days of services that range from learning English to how to use public transportation or get a job. Ascentria does it all on $925 per person.

“From this $925 we pay for the rent, their food, their seasonal clothing for their transportation on and on and it’s one time only,” explained Mohammed Najeeb of Ascentria Care Alliance Services for New Americans.

Ascentria told 22News they only get a two week notice before refugees arrive. They handle all the case management. They said they’re always looking for more affordable housing.

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