PITTSFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) – An unexpected announcement is sending shockwaves through a local community on Tuesday night.
After months of preparation, Pittsfield announced it will no longer be a resettlement location for refugees.
At one point it was believed somewhere 15 to 18 families from places like Syria and Iraq would be able to call Pittsfield home. As of Tuesday, that is no longer the case.
It was a year ago this month, Pittsfield was identified as a good location for refugee resettlement.
Berkshire County Native Peter Loboda planned on helping, however, he could.
“There’s a lot of pain and suffering that’s going on around the world so if we can do anything to alleviate that we should be able to as a community do it,” Loboda said.
Flash forward 12 months and that plan has now been scrapped.
The Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts was helping to spearhead the effort.
In a statement, they say the refugee program is expected to be much smaller than originally anticipated. What was once going to be 110,000 refugee families entering the U.S. will now be less than half of that.
The center released this statement:
“In light of this reality, we are very disappointed to have share the news that the U.S. Department of State decided not to open Pittsfield as a resettlement site.
“You know it’s a tragedy. I think it is,” Loboda said.
Loboda is upset and he’s not alone.
“If they don’t come here where are they gonna go?” Jenna Faeren said.
Faeren also planned on volunteering with refugee families.
“We had made a commitment to take in a certain amount of refugees, and now we are going back on that commitment, which just doesn’t look good.”
Meanwhile, Pittsfield resident David Previe agrees with the move. He says we need to focus on our own citizens first.
“We need to take care of ourselves. You spend too much overseas, we’ve got plenty of people starving and unemployed here.”
The Jewish Family Service says their Springfield program will still continue but on a much smaller scale.