Tuesday, July 17, 2018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- April 19th, 2018

Amaad Rivera calls for Governor Baker to host meeting with Puerto Rican Evacuees 

Springfield --  In response to Puerto Rican Evacuees who have been living in temporary housing in Springfield, West Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee who will homeless at the end of the week, Amaad Rivera has called on Governor Baker to host a community meeting. This situation was outlined in the MassLive article We have nowhere to go back to': Hurricane evacuees press US Sens. Warren, Markey for help as housing assistance ends"

"In times such as these, when the Trump administration is creating a climate of fear, neglect, and forcing our state to do more with less, we need our State Legislators and Governor to step up and protect our communities," said Rivera.

Rivera has sent an open letter to the Governor requesting a community meeting to discuss the much needed financial resources for Puerto Rico's evacuees.

"Springfield, West Springfield and Chicopee have opened up their arms to evacuees, but our local communities are already underfunded and overburdened. We need resources to support these families" said Rivera.

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April 19th, 2018

The Honorable Charlie Baker
Office of the Governor
Massachusetts State House
Room 280 Boston, MA 02133

Governor Baker,

As you may be aware, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will discontinue funding on Friday April 20, 2018 for a program that housed Puerto Rican evacuees in temporary locations such as motels and hotels. Without this funding, hundreds of families will be rendered homeless.

I am requesting a meeting with Puerto Rican evacuees, their representatives, and community based organizations working on their behalf to strategize a path forward.

Massachusetts has the second largest influx of evacuees and requests for FEMA assistance in the country, surpassed only by Florida. In our state, Western Massachusetts has welcomed the largest portion of these evacuees. Currently, Springfield has the largest number of families from Puerto Rico in the state in the public school system and West Springfield has a large population of families living in hotels and motels.

This high-need population requires services such as healthcare, access to educational institutions, medication, and food and daycare. Our municipal systems, which are already overburdened and underfunded, are on the front lines meeting the needs of these families.

Public, private, and faith based institutions have rallied together to get these families healthcare, their children enrolled in schools and support them with healthy food access. Without proper funding from the state and federal government, our communities cannot meet these families’ needs.
While our communities are thankful for the $15 million that has gone into helping to meet the educational needs of these families, housing is now the most pressing concern.
The Governor of Massachusetts can file for an emergency designation with the Federal Government when dealing with an influx of evaucess from natural disasters. This designation, which has to be led by the state in partnership with the Puerto Rican government, would help to fund emergency housing. Puerto Rico has already spent several months developing this type of partnership with Florida.
Furthermore, we need emergency state funding for housing vouchers to prevent these families from becoming homeless.
I look forward to your response.

Amaad Rivera
Democrat for State Senate