Category Archives: Advisories

Here you will find many categories of useful information for Albanian and other immigrants.

A One-Stop Resource for Homebuying and Homeowning

Author: Ms. Janice Hamilton of the Boston Home Center

The Boston Home Center offers information on a range of programs and services available in the Boston area such as:

  1. Information and registration for homebuyer education classes and counseling provided in the City of Boston.
  2. Information on credit counseling and repair.
  3. Information on and referral to the various loan/grant programs offered to purchase or repair a home.
  4. Listings of various properties available for purchase through the City.
  5. Information on a variety of local lenders and their speciality mortgage programs.
  6. General education pamphlets on technical and financial issues surrounding the purchase or repair of a home.

The following is only a partial list of programs offered by the City to help homebuyers and homeowners in Boston:

Homebuyers 101 is a free, 5-session course that will teach you the in’s and out’s of the homebuying process. Graduates receive a Boston Home Certificate which eligible buyers can redeem for closing cost and/or down payment grants from the City of Boston!

Homeowner 201 is a free, 3-session course which will teach homeowners about landlord, property maintenance, and financial issues.

The Boston Soft Second Mortgage Program offers lower income buyers a discounted mortgage rate with no points, reduced closing costs and no mortgage insurance fees.

The Massachusetts Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) provides moderate income buyers a discounted mortgage rate for the purchase, or purchase and repair, of a home in Boston.

The Boston Mortgage Program offers all Boston homebuyers low downpayment mortgages for purchase, or purchase and repair, of a home in Boston:

  • BostonMORTGAGE Single Family/Condo option: 97% loan with only 3% downpayment required buy the buyer.
  • BostonMORTGAGE 2-family option: 95% loan with only 3% downpayment by the buyer.
  • BostonMORTGAGE 3-family option: 90% loan with only 5% required from the buyer.

Register now for Spring classes which begin on April 18, 1998!

For further information, please call (617) 635-HOME (635-4663) or visit: Boston Home Center
26 Court Street
Boston, MA 02108


Author: Tyler Moran of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition

How Receipt of Benefits Can Affect Your Immigration Status 

  1. If I receive benefits, how will it affect my immigration status?
    When you apply for a Green Card, the INS considers a number of factors to decide whether you will be able to support yourself when you live in the U.S. (e.g. your age, health, income, family size, education and skills). If after considering your situation, the INS thinks that you cannot support yourself and that you will depend on benefits in the future, they can deny you a Green Card because you are considered a “public charge.” If you have used public benefits, you need to prove to the INS that you will be able to support yourself and that you will not rely on public benefits in the future.
  2. What kinds of benefits might cause a public charge problem?
    The INS is supposed to consider only programs meant for people who cannot support themselves, such as cash assistance, but the public charge decision will depend on your situation and your ability to support yourself. If you can support yourself or someone else can support you, receipt of WIC or Free Care* cannot make you a “public charge.”
  3. Can I be asked to pay back benefits that I used in the past?
    No. The INS cannot ask anyone to pay back benefits. If you are asked to pay back benefits, you should get legal help immediately. You only have to repay benefits if you received them improperly (for example, you did not tell your welfare worker about all of your income), and if the agency that gave you the benefits has actually asked you to repay them.
  4. If I used benefits in the past, will I be able to sponsor my family member to come to the U.S.?
    If you sponsor your family member to come to the U.S., you will have to sign a legal document, called an “Affidavit of Support,” that shows that you currently have enough money to support your household and the family members that you are sponsoring. If the INS does not think that you can support your family member in the future, then they can deny your family member a green card even if you met the income requirements and signed the Affidavit of Support.
  5. If I have a Green Card and receive benefits, will it prevent me from becoming a U.S. citizen?
    No, not unless you received benefits that you were not supposed to receive. If you illegally received public benefits, the INS may decide that you do not have “good moral character” and you could have trouble becoming a U.S. citizen.
  6. What should I do if I have any questions about using public benefits?
    Please call an immigration lawyer if you have any questions.

*WIC is a nutritional program for low income pregnant or breast-feeding women and children under five. Free Care is health care for those at 200%-400% of the federal poverty limit.

Frosina thanks Tyler Moran of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, Boston, MA, for the above information.

WIC Free Food And Nutrition Programs

Author: Massachusetts Women, Infants and Children Program

The Massachusetts Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC) offers free food and nutrition information to help keep pregnant women, infants and children under five years of age healthy and strong.

Women are eligible if they:

  • Live in Massachusetts
  • Are pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding an infant or child under 5 years of age
  • Have a nutritional need
  • Have a household income that is less than or equal to the income guidelines below:

Total Income Guidelines

Household Size Yearly Monthly Weekly
1 person $14,319 $1,194 $276
2 19,166 1,598 369
3 24,013 2,002 462
4 28,860 2,405 555
5 33,707 2,809 649
6 38,554 3,213 742
7 43,401 3,617 835
8 48,248 4,021 928

You are automatically income eligible for WIC if you currently receive TAFDC, Food Stamps or Medicaid.

To set up an appointment, call 1-800-WIC-1007 for assistance. There are 37 WIC locations across Massachusetts. The local WIC program staff will tell you what to bring to your appointment.

Mayor’s Health Line

Author: Mayor’s Health Line

Albanian and other newcomers to the Boston area should take advantage of the Mayor’s Health Line (MHL) which is an information, referral, and advocacy telephone line. Call the MHL for questions or problems relating to:

  • Hospital and Health Center Care
  • Public Programs for the Uninsured
  • Primary Care and Specialty Services
  • Prenatal Services and Benefits for Pregnant Women
  • Health Coverage for Children
  • Private, Non-group Insurance Options for Individuals and Families
  • Sites for Breast Cancer Screening, Flu Shots, HIV Testing, and Immunizations
  • Social Services, as Needed
  • Multilingual Services

All services are confidential.

Available Resources:
Health Care for All / (617) 988-3222
Consumer advocacy organization that believes everyone should have the right to health care. Activities include organizing, legislative action, and information and referral.

Division of Health Care Finance and Policy / (617) 988-3222
Free care questions and helpline.

Greater Boston Legal Services / (617) 371-1234
For legal assistance and representation.

Office of Elder Affairs / (617) 635-4646
Information and applications for the Mayor’s Neighborhood Pharmacy Program

Division of Insurance / (617) 521-7777
Handles questions on non-Group insurance.

SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Elders) / 1-800-436-7757

Managed Care Ombudsman / 1-800-882-2003
Assists consumers in understanding their legal rights and utilizing their HMO’s appeal process.

Telephone any of the above Monday to Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.

MassHealth Health Care for Certain Low- and Medium-Income People Living in MA

Author: Ms. Tyler Moran of MIRA

Albanian and other newcomers to Massachusetts should take advantage of different MassHealth coverage types offered by the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) for low- and medium-income Massachusetts residents who meet certain eligibility requirements. Listed below are the most comprehensive programs that people are eligible to receive.

MassHealth Standard 
Coverage: a full range of health care, including hospitals, doctor’s visits, dentists’s visits, lab services, OB/GYN services, well-child visits, prescription drugs, and mental health and substance abuse services. Members: children under 19 and adults 65 years or over, pregnant & people with disabilities, parents & caretakers of children. Some immigrant restrictions apply.

MassHealth Prenatal
Coverage: immediate outpatient prenatal care including up to 45 days of routine prenatal office visits and diagnostic tests. Members: low-income pregnant women whose requests for MassHealth Standard coverage are being processed.

MassHealth CommonHealth
Coverage: benefits similar to MassHealth Standard. Some members may have to pay premiums or meet a deductible, depending on income. Members: low- and medium-income people with disabilities who are not eligible for MassHealth Standard.

MassHealth Basic
Coverage: services are the same as MassHealth Standard excluding long-term care, eyeglasses, hearing aids, and transportation. Members: eligibility requirements: those between the ages of 18- 65 without disabilities or children.

MassHealth Buy-in
Coverage: payment of all or part of health insurance premiums only. Members:
low-income, long-term unemployed adults who have or can get other health insurance and are not eligible for MassHealth Standard or MassHealth CommonHealth.
some immigrants who cannot get MassHealth Standard because of federal immigration law.

MassHealth Limited
Coverage: emergency services including labor and delivery, and “acute medical conditions” that could include prescriptions for 30 days and services provided by doctors and clinics outside the hospital. Members: people who would be eligible for MassHealth Standard but for their immigration status.

Children’s Medical Security Plan (CMSP)
Provides free or low-cost health care for preventative or primary care for any child, 18 or under, who is ineligible for MassHealth.

Healthy Start
Provides health care for pregnant women who are ineligible for MassHealth.

To learn more about MassHealth and for questions about general eligibility, income and family size, call the MassHealth Enrollment Center (MEC) nearest you listed below:

Charlestown MEC
Tel: 1-800-322-1448

Tewksbury MEC
Tel: 1-800-408-1253

Taunton MEC
Tel: 1-800-242-1340

Health Care for All (HCFA)

Author: Ms. Kim Shellenberger of HCFA

In response to inquiries about sources of Free or Low Cost Medical Care and Free Prescription Drugs in Masssachusetts, Frosina is pleased to make the following information available to Albanian and other newcomers:

Health Care for All

The Free Care Program pays the hospital or community health center for all or part of the costs of giving medical services if a person cannot pay. However, it does not pay for services such as private doctor’s bills, prescription drugs, lab tests, and some operations. Most public and private hospitals participate in the Free Care Program.

If a person needs free care, he/she must request it by asking the hospital or health center for an application. People will be asked about their incomes and number of dependents (family size) to find out if they qualify. It is not necessary to fit into any special “category” (such as pregnancy, elderly, or disabled) to qualify for Free Care. You do not have to prove immigration or citizenship status to qualify for Free Care!

If you are having trouble paying for prescription medications and do not have health insurance or your insurance does not cover prescription drugs, a new program may offer some relief. To qualify, you must also be low-income and need the assistance of your doctor. Here’s what to do:

  1. When your doctor prescribes a medication that you or a dependent must take for more than a month, ask the doctor how much the drug costs. If you cannot afford the drug, tell your doctor you cannot afford it and ask him/her to help you obtain the drug through the drug manufacturer’s program.
  2. Give your doctor the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association Help Line phone number (1-800-PMA-INFO) and then ask someone from the doctor’s office to call that number and ask for the drug manufacturer’s representative who will then outline the company’s procedure for obtaining the drug — different companies have different procedures but usually the doctor will either have a letter or fill out a form. Depending on the drug company, you may need to provide your doctor with information about your assets, insurance, family size, or income.
  3. Medicines are usually delivered to the doctor’s office. Your doctor is required to label the medicine properly and give you instructions for taking it.
  4. Some drug companies provide long-term users with identification cards (ID) or vouchers that can be used in local pharmacies. Ask your doctor about that possibility!

For more information, contact:

30 Winter Street, #1007
Boston, MA 02108
TEL: (617) 350-7279 or 1-800-272-4232

Dental Care

Author: Van Christo

Albanians and other newcomers should take advantage of the sources listed below in the Greater Boston Area that offer affordable dental and/or dental hygiene treatment and care.

  • Forsyth Dental Center (Provides cleaning and examination services only) 140 The Fenway $25 for adults Boston, MA 02115 $20 for children $12 for senior citizens
    For appointments, phone Ms. Louise Howard at (617) 262-5200, Ext 206 Most of the following organizations offer complete dental services (cleaning, fillings, etc.) at prices that are generally 40-50% cheaper than private dental practices. Please contact the organization nearest you to determine the types of offered services and prices.

    1. Boston University Dental Health Plan 100 East Newton Steet Boston, MA 02118 For appointments, phone (617) 638-4671 930 Commonwealth Avenue Boston, MA 02215 For appointments, phone (617) 739-0033
    2. Tufts Dental Clinic 1 Kneeland Street Boston, MA 02116 For appointments, phone (617) 956-6828
    3. Harvard School of Dental medicine, Student Dental Clinic 188 Longwood Avenue Boston, MA 02115 For appointments, phone (617) 432-1424
    4. Boston Medical Center 818 Harrison Avenue Boston, MA 02118 For appointments, phone (617) 534-4852
    5. East Somerville Dental Clinic 42 Cross Street E. Somerville, MA 02145 For appointments, phone (617) 638-4671 (See additional listings on reverse side) Frosina Information Network/162 Boylston St/Boston, MA 02116/Tel: 617/482-2002/Fax: 617/482-0014 Web Site:

    Community Health Centers
    (Please phone in advance to determine types of services offered, opening hours, and/or to make an appoinment) Also call: Mayor’s Health Line (617) 534-5050

    Joseph M. Smith Health Center, 287 Western Ave., Allston, MA 02134 Tel: (617) 783-0500

    Back Bay
    Boston Evening Medical Center, 388 Commonwealth Ave., Boston, MA 02215 Tel: (617) 267-7171

    Bowdoin Street Health Center, 230 Bowdoin St., Dorchester, MA 02122 Tel: (617) 825-9800
    Codman Square Health Center, 637 Washington St, Dorchester, MA 02124 Tel: (617) 825-9660
    Geiger Gibson, 250 Mount Vernon St., Dorchester, MA 02125 Tel: (617) 288-1140

    North End
    North End Health Center, 332 Hanover St., Boston, MA 02114 Tel: (617) 742-9570

    Roslindale Greater Roslindale Med. & Dental Ctr., 8 Cummings Hgwy, Roslindale, MA 02131 Tel: (617) 323-4440

    Dimock St. Community Health Center, 55 Dimock St., Roxbury, MA 02119, Tel: (617) 442-8800
    Roxbury Comp. Community Health Ctr., 435 Warren St., Roxbury, MA 02119 Tel: (617) 442-7400
    Whittier Street Health Center, 20 Whittier St., Roxbury, MA 02120 Tel: (617) 427-1000

    South Boston
    The Laboure Center, 271 West 4th ST., South Boston, MA 02127 Tel: (617) 268-9670
    South Boston Com. Health Ctr., South Boston, MA 02127 Tel: (617) 269-7500
    Frosina is grateful to Ms. Sheila Gleeson of the Irish Imigration Center, Boston, MA, for supplying the above information.

Prescription Drug Program for Senior Citizens

Author: Senior Pharmacy Program

Eligible Albanian and other seniors who have resided in Masachusetts for the last 6 months can enroll in the Senior Pharmacy Program which provides up to $750 per benefit year for prescription drugs in all Therapeutic Classes, except those excluded in MassHealth (Medicaid).

The Senior Pharmacy Program is open to seniors over the age of 65 having an annual income no greater than $12,084 (couples amy apply individually) who have no prescription drug coverage insurance policy and who are not enrolled in the MassHealth (Medicaid) program.

Program Costs

  • Annual enrollment fee of $15 (automatically deducted from the $750 benefit)
  • Copayments:
    – $3 for generic drugs, insulin and disposable insulin syringes with needles
    – $10 for brand name drugs

How to Apply
Individuals may apply by completing an application and submitting it to the Senior Pharmacy Program. If the application is complete and you are determined eligible for the Program, you will receive a written approval notice. A Senior Pharmacy Program Identification Card will be mailed to you.

The current benefit year for the Senior Pharmacy Program is July 1, 1998 to June 30, 1999.

For an application and more information about the Senior Pharmacy Program, Albanian-American seniors and others should call: 1-800-953-3305
Senior Pharmacy Program
124 Watertown Street
Watertown, MA 02472

Mayor’s Office of New Bostonians

Author: Office of New Bostonians

The Office of New Bostonians is an initiative of Mayor Thomas M. Menino to stengthen the ability of residents from diverse cultural and linguistic communities to fully participate in the economic, civil, social, and cultural life of the City of Boston.

Albanians and other newcomers to Greater Boston should call the Office of New Bostonians at (617) 635-2980:

  • To find out what services the City provides for immigrants and refugees in Boston.
  • If you or someone you know needs assistance accessing city government services.
  • For referral to community groups in the Boston area that offer services to refugees and immigrants.
  • To find an English as a Second Language (ESL) or citizenship class.
  • To share concerns and problems that face immigrants and refugees in Boston today.

Just one example of the variety of referral services offered by the Office of New Bostonians is the following:

Jobs & Career Services

All of these locations offer free or low-cost job training or job search assistance.

Boston Career Link
281 Huntington Avenue
(617) 536-1888

JobNet (Downtown Boston)
210 South Street
(617) 338-0809

JobNet (Roxbury)
1010 Massachusetts Avenue
(617) 427-4855

The Workplace (Downtown Boston)
101 Federal Street
(617) 737-0093

If you do not speak English and you need help to access city services, call the Office of New Bostonians 24 hours in advance at (617) 635-2980 to arrange for an interpreter.

Office of New Bostonians
Boston City Hall, Room 803
Boston, MA 02201
Tel: (617) 635-2980
Fax: (617) 635-4540

Catholic Charities: Refugee and Immigration Services

Author: Claire A. Carroll

Refugee and Immigration Services (RIS) is the arm of Catholic Charities dedicated to supporting refugee families as they become fully participating members of their new communities in the United States. RIS offers an array of integrated services to help Albanian and other refugee newcomers achieve self-sufficiency including:

Resettlement Assistance
To ensure that newly arrived refugees have adequate housing, food, clothing and referral to employment and social services.

Citizenship Preparation
Civic classes and individualized counseling to prepare for the citizenship exam.

English as a Second Language (ESL)
Evening ESL classes at parishes and community-based sites throughout Greater Boston.

Interpreter Services
Training interpretation skills for bilingual individuals and direct services to agencies with non-English speaking constituents.

Employment Counseling and Placement
English language training that is needed before, during, and after placement in jobs. Job search activities are structured to address the particular needs of each refugee. At the same time, RIS develops leads with employers that match refugees’ interests and aptitude.

Immigration Legal Counseling
Information, assistance, representation and referral to immigrants of all nationalities.

For more information, please contact:

Catholic Charities/Greater Boston
Refugee and Immigration Services
270 Washington Street
Somerville, MA 02143
Tel: (617) 625-1920
Fax: (617) 629-5768

Frosina thanks Claire A. Carroll, Director of Refugee and Immigration Services, for providing the above information.