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Rodent infestation so pervasive they were nibbling on a disabled Somali refugees child’s feeding tube

The horror stories keep emerging from the Springfield, MA case. The city cited one rental property at 400 Franklin St. occupied by three families of Somali refugees for deplorable, “uninhabitable” living conditions – because mice and rats infested the building so pervasively they were nibbling on a disabled child’s feeding tube. The property was filled with dead mice and rat droppings, and had holes chewed in the walls. The city issues a condemnation order in May for the property at Franklin Street and 72 Carver St. with a torn blue tarp covering the roof. It had a litany of violations including broken locks and windows, a lack of hot water and heat in certain units and a heavy infestation of bed bugs. An article atThe Republican takes a deeper look at the situation in Springfield:
SPRINGFIELD — …21-year-old Hiboxasan Iyai found the challenges of her birthright were not yet over.
Among hundreds of Somali Bantu refugees resettled here since 2003, Iyai – a mother of a 3- and 1-year-old, has been struggling to feed and clothe her children since she arrived two months ago…
“America good,” she said with a broad smile, standing in the hallway of her apartment at 400 Franklin St, a triple-decker home that houses three families of Somali refugees run by a landlord based out of Meriden, Conn.
The property was one of several cited by the city for deplorable, “uninhabitable” living conditions earlier this year – primarily because mice and rats had infested the building so pervasively they were nibbling on a disabled child’s feeding tube on the third floor, according to city records linked to the house…
David Cotter, director of code enforcement for the city, has said more than a half-dozen complaints have recently come from the refugee rental market, with properties all across the city affected…
The emerging housing problem was among factors that prompted Mayor Domenic J. Sarno to publicly state that the city is “closed for business” for any more refugees…
“I know (resettlement agencies) mean well. I do care and do have a heart. I’m a first-generation kid of Italian immigrants … but where’s the follow-up?” Sarno said.
The two primary resettlement agencies for refugees in Western Massachusetts are Jewish Family Service in Springfield and Lutheran Social Services of New England.
Since 2011, U.S. State Department numbers show the agencies have helped resettle nearly 1,500 refugees in Greater Springfield – primarily from African nations and in greatest numbers in Springfield and West Springfield…
Jozefina Lantz, director for services for New Americans for Lutheran Social Services, said…“If the refugee family runs into issues…three years down the road — that is not something we would follow…
Cotter provided documentation for several properties including Franklin Street and 72 Carver St., which still had a torn blue tarp covering the roof when a reporter recently visited the property. A small group of women dressed in traditional African garb were gathered on the front porch, but none spoke English.
A condemnation order was issued by the city in May, attached to a report with a litany of violations including the tarp, broken locks and windows, a lack of hot water and heat in certain units and a heavy infestation of bed bugs…
In the case of 400 Franklin St., Cotter said the property was filled with dead mice and rat droppings, and had holes chewed in the walls. Deeds records show the limited liability corporation purchased the property for $35,000 in 2008.
“We have six people in code enforcement and there have been 192 condemnations since the first of January. That’s a ridiculous amount. Now we have to turn those over to our Law Department, which is short-staffed, and what happens when the cold weather comes and they don’t have a winter coat or they can’t communicate with the oil company when that runs out? Where’s the follow-up?” Cotter said…
Iyai…added that she had been resettled by Lutheran Social Services.
“Not good,” she said, unable to provide more detail in English… Read more here
2003 State Department inspection report shows that ten years ago there were concerns about public safety is the areas that Jewish Family Services was placing Somali Bantu refugees. Female refugees said they did not feel safe walking in the neighborhood. Why wasn’t this issue resolved? (Several years ago I asked Barbara Day of the State Department Refugee Admissions Office why the contract documents that resettlement agencies such as Jewish Family Services sign do not have any penalties, any “teeth.” She said they would have to consider that.  As of 2013 there still are no teeth.) Also, two refugee men reported that Jewish Family Services had charged them for their stove and refrigerator. These items are required via one of the State Department contract documents that resettlement agencies such as Jewish Family Services sign, therefore the agency violated the contract by charging the refugees.  >>more<<

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