HOLYOKE — As the state continues to channel refugees to Massachusetts municipalities in its capacity as a “Right to Shelter” state, Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia said the city will do its part if any of migrants settle in Holyoke. But he said the state will have to up its game in its support for the city, as well.
“We don’t know much,” the Mayor said. “There is a chance we might not see any migrants sheltered in the city in this most recent wave that the Governor’s administration is facilitating. But in the event we do, we will be prepared. In the spirit of transparency, however, we want to be sure our community knows what we know and that we are monitoring developments.”
Mayor Garcia’s public statement came in the wake of a statewide Zoom conference on Wednesday at which Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll gave the cities and towns of Massachusetts a heads up that refugees seeking shelter will be directed to some 70-plus of the state’s 351 municipalities. She did not identify prospective host towns or cities.
If Holyoke should be selected, Mayor Garcia said, he will balance compassion with protecting the interests of the city. If the interests of the city aren’t balanced, Mayor Garcia said, it places Holyoke on an unsustainable path.
“Holyoke has always been a compassionate city,” Garcia said. “Our efforts on behalf of the homeless and the disadvantaged are well known. Our hearts are with the refugees and anyone else down and out on their luck. If Holyoke is one of the 70-plus municipalities chosen to shelter migrants — and I have no information whether that will happen — the state needs to know we won’t be able to do it with existing resources. The current shelter crisis is not a Holyoke problem or a Chicopee problem or a Springfield problem. It is a statewide issue that requires a statewide response.”
“On Thursday, I communicated with Lieutenant Governor Driscoll, assuring her that if Holyoke is one of the 70-plus, our doors are open, and we will be prepared to meet the challenge as we have for other humanitarian issues for decades. But the other half of that promise requires the Legislature and the Healey Administration to recognize the scope of the challenge and the impact it has on keeping up with quality-of-life issues and basic municipal services — particularly in Holyoke — and respond with realistic resources.”