Diaspora

Migrant among group who unexpectedly arrived in Kingston explains his journey to Massachusetts – WCVB Boston

Members of congress recently asked FEMA for assistance, cooperation
Members of congress recently asked FEMA for assistance, cooperation
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Members of congress recently asked FEMA for assistance, cooperation
One member of the group that was unexpectedly placed in a South Shore hotel by state officials identified himself on Thursday as Haitian who came to the United States with his family and shared details of the long journey they took to Massachusetts.
Approximately 107 people in need of assistance arrived in Kingston within the past week, Town Administrator Keith Hickey said. The group is being put up in the Baymont by Wyndham hotel by the state, but Hickey said officials gave the town no warning that those people would be coming.
According to Hickey, there are 20 children among the 107 who will need to be schooled for as long as they remain in Kingston, which could be through the end of the year or until the state can find permanent housing.
One member of the group, who spoke to NewsCenter 5’s David Bienick in French, said he came with his wife and two sons from Haiti. He said they started out in Florida but decided to come to Boston, collected money from friends and purchased bus tickets.
After three days on a bus, they arrived in Boston. The man said his family went to a hospital, where they sought help.
He said the state brought them to the hotel about one week ago.
He said at least some of the others being housed at the hotel are also from Haiti, but they didn’t know each other and arrived separately.
The man also said he doesn’t know how long they’ll be housed at the hotel or where they’ll go next. He did mention that he knows his family needs to acquire coats and hats before winter.
Political instability in Haiti has simmered ever since last year’s still-unsolved assassination of Haitian President Jovenel Moïse, who had faced opposition protests calling for his resignation over corruption charges and claims that his five-year term had expired. Moïse dissolved Parliament in January 2020 after legislators failed to hold elections in 2019 amid political gridlock.
Haiti has been gripped by inflation, causing rising prices that have put food and fuel out of reach for many, as well as protests that have brought society to the breaking point. Violence is raging, making parents afraid to send their kids to school. Hospitals, banks and grocery stores are struggling to stay open. Clean water is scarce and the country is trying to deal with a cholera outbreak.
Hickey said the group’s immediate needs, such as food and shelter, are being provided for by the state, but that the rest of the work will fall on the town of Kingston.
“The town of Kingston is going to have to fund whatever support services are needed for those individuals while they’re attending school. We don’t know if those costs will be reimbursed to us by the state of Massachusetts,” Hickey said. “So I think the largest exposure, financially, to the town of Kingston is to our school department.”
According to Hickey, he was assured by the state that no more people will be relocated to Kingston.
Kelsey Schiller, the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, said that approximately 27 families are currently being housed in Kingston.
Plymouth Town Manager Derek Brindisi said that eight families were being housed there by the state and that up to 27 more could arrive over the next few days.
The state is expecting this to be a short-term mission that is expected to end by Jan. 1, 2023, Brindisi said.
According to Brindisi, the state officials he spoke with referred to the people brought to Plymouth as migrants, but also noted that some of them have already been in Massachusetts for a significant period of time.
A similar group was placed in Methuen earlier this month, where Mayor Neil Perry complained it took six days for officials with the Department of Housing and Community Development to arrange a meeting and provide information to his office.

Earlier this week, members of the state’s all-Democratic congressional delegation sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency asking for assistance and cooperation with local organizations.
“The Massachusetts Office for Refugees and Immigrants welcomed about 1,000 individuals in 2021 that included refugees, migrants, and asylum-seekers. But this pace has increased significantly this year: estimates suggest that over 2,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti and South American countries, arrived in the Boston area between May and August 2022.”
Under Massachusetts law, DHCD is required to provide shelter for eligible households with children under the age of 21 or pregnant people, including those who have recently arrived in the state. The agency said it uses motels when there are no vacancies in the shelter system and said it provides the families with services and meals.
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