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Regional News

First Afghan evacuees to western Mass. get apartment in Springfield

Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. military plane in Italy in August 2021.
Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Daniel Young
/
U.S. Navy
Afghan evacuees disembark a U.S. military plane in Italy in August 2021.

The first of dozens of expected Afghan evacuees have arrived in western Massachusetts.

Four young men from Afghanistan are settling down at an apartment in Springfield, through the help of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts.

The resettlement agency's president, Maxine Stein, said before the agency found the apartment, two of the men were taken in by a host family in Amherst.

“What we need is transitional housing, as we had in Amherst with this wonderful family,” Stein said. “Sometimes it — always it will probably take us time to secure apartments, and the ideal is to be able to give people their own homes. We are relying on those people in the community that do have a setup that would be conducive to being able to take in maybe a couple or a young family or even a single person.”

As new arrivals slowly enter the region, Stein noted that parolees are now eligible to receive federal benefits, but they are still waiting on those funds from the government.

“Congress did pass this resolution at the end of September to extend benefits to all of the Afghani evacuees. So that's great news. We just need to start seeing the funding show up and then we'll all relax a little bit more because right now we're on a shoestring,” Stein said.

Stein also said parolees arriving are seeking asylum. She said Jewish Family Service needs more volunteers — with or without legal experience — to help process asylum applications.

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