Investments in housing, increased funding for resettlement among amendments approved by Mass. House | Local News


Massachusetts House passed four sets of amendments before passing its spending bill, including increased funding for resettlement agencies helping Afghan and Haitian evacuees.

After releasing the $ 3.65 billion plan on Monday, the House voted unanimously on Thursday to add a collection of $ 44.3 million in health, social services and education amendments, as well as an assortment of $ 11.7 million in housing and food security amendments. When debate resumed on Friday, representatives approved a list of $ 26.6 million of environmental, climate and infrastructure amendments, and a set of $ 90.7 million of amendments relating to the workforce and economic development.

To become law, amendments passed in the House still need to be approved by the Senate and Governor Charlie Baker.

The housing investments approved on Thursday included proposals from Berkshire County officials.

Adams and North Adams would each receive $ 175,000 to rehabilitate older housing units in an effort to create opportunities for first-time buyers. Construct Inc., a Great Barrington-based nonprofit, would get $ 100,000 for a matching grant program to support first-time homebuyers.

To cover the costs of renovating Pittsfield’s Fenn Street homeless shelter, $ 250,000 would support the project, which aims to reduce overcrowding and improve safety. Another million dollars would go towards the design and development of permanent supportive housing, possibly through a new facility, for long-term homeless people in the county.

Another approved amendment would increase assistance to resettlement agencies from $ 12 million to $ 20 million as they seek to connect Afghan and Haitian arrivals to support services. Massachusetts is expected to accommodate 900 Afghans evacuated in the first wave of resettlement, and the Jewish Family Services of Western Massachusetts plan to house 60 people in Berkshire County. More than 100 Haitian families arrived in Massachusetts in mid-October, Boston Globe reports, although the United States returned some migrants to Haiti.

While Afghan evacuees are sometimes referred to as “refugees,” most are classified as humanitarian parolees, which means they do not have the legal status of people who go through the US refugee admissions program. The American Congress approved funding provide Afghan parolees with certain benefits refugees receive, including access to resettlement benefits and driver’s licenses.

Parole status only provides temporary residence, and Afghan parolees will need to apply for asylum in order to stay longer. The Massachusetts amendment includes $ 4.5 million for “resettlement agencies to help humanitarian parolees from Afghanistan and Haiti obtain secure immigration status in the United States.”

Danny Jin, a member of the Report for America Corps, is the reporter for The Eagle’s Statehouse. He can be reached at [email protected], @djinreports on Twitter and 413-496-6221.

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