The refugee case in Springfield, Massachusetts has come back into the public spotlight after police responding to call from a Somali family discovered them living in an apartment with an extremely heavy roach infestation and no electricity. Of the family’s children two required special breathing equipment, which was not functioning without electricity. City inspectors said it was the worst roach infestation they had ever seen and condemned the apartment. In addition, there were missing or non-working smoke detectors, no working stove, and other conditions that made the apartment uninhabitable. The mayor and others have of course jumped on the refugee resettlement agencies in town but the family was resettled in 2003 and moved out of the state only to move back, and then out again and then back again. Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts last assisted the family in 2011 until the family moved out-of-state a second time and claim it was not aware the family needed help again.
A couple of articles in The Republican newspaper report on the case:
SPRINGFIELD – City officials said Tuesday that Somali refugees including 12 children were found living in deplorable conditions in a Union Street apartment that had a heavy infestation of roaches and no electricity.
The duplex apartment at 515 Union St. was condemned Thursday by the city, and the tenants — believed to number three adults and 12 children — were relocated after Code Enforcement and Housing officials were notified and conducted the inspection, city officials said.
“It was the heaviest infestation of roaches I have seen in years,” said David Cotter, the city’s deputy director of code enforcement in the Housing Division. “They were all over the walls, floors, ceilings, window areas, doorways. I ordered all the inspectors out of there until we could get a full extermination report.”
According to police, one child was doing her homework outside the building under a street lamp on Wednesday night due to the lack of electricity, Cotter said.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, who has been critical of the refugee resettlement policies in Springfield in the past, renewed his criticism on Tuesday. Refugees have not received adequate follow-up services from the resettlement agencies, from the federal level on down, leaving them to be a strain on city services, Sarno said.
“Where is the accountability?” Sarno said.
The residents were living in poverty and in crowded, unsafe conditions, Sarno said.
Sarno had urged the federal government to stop locating new refugees in Springfield last year, and called for a moratorium again on Tuesday.
“No mas, no more,” Sarno said… Read more here
Although Jewish Family Service is not responsible for this family, that was resettled eleven years ago, they have pledged to help. A second article gives more information:
SPRINGFIELD – Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts President Robert Marmor said this week that his agency will work with the state to ensure the safety of 12 refugee children who were living in conditions at a Union Street apartment described as roach-infested…
In another twist, the 12 children and their parents have since moved temporarily into a Greenfield hotel after spending a night in a Marian Street apartment provided by their landlord. That apartment was also condemned, officials said…
Marmor, in a letter to Associate City Solicitor Lisa DeSousa, said his agency will act immediately to “ensure the children are safe and in appropriate child care and academic settings.”
David Cotter, the city’s deputy director of code enforcement, said the roach infestation was the worst he has seen in many years.
In addition, he said there were missing or non-working smoke detectors, no electricity or working stove, and other conditions that made the apartment uninhabitable.
Marmor said his employees, in communicating with the family, believe there has been numerous complaints to the landlord about conditions. The landlord is No Limit Investment, whose officers are listed as Jimmy Davis, of Philadelphia, and Dasha Miller, of Springfield, according to records.
Daniel Kelly, of Springfield, a lawyer representing the landlord, said they are working to correct all violations this week at 515 Union St. In addition, they are correcting violations found at the second apartment they provided to the family at 197 Marion St…
The electricity had been turned off at the Union Street apartment because of very large unpaid electric bills, Kelly said… Read more here