As Massachusetts housing facilities brace for maxed-out capacity as early as this week, the governor of the “right-to-shelter” state is suggesting there are “a lot” of other places in the U.S. migrants should be sent.
Gov. Maura Healy announced this week there are 40 to 50 new families arriving in the state every day and seeking state assistance with housing, and the influx of people to Massachusetts — many without a lawful presence in the U.S. — has pushed the state’s shelter system close to its 7,500-family limit, according to a report in the Boston Herald.
Massachusetts has a “right-to-shelter law,” which entitles migrant families to taxpayer-funded emergency shelter. The Bay State is the only one in the country with a statewide right-to-shelter law, signed into law in 1983 by Gov. Michael Dukakis.
Healy, a Democrat, said she hopes the crisis doesn’t devolve into homeless people sleeping at Boston’s Logan Airport or in emergency rooms. She also suggested other states should consider accepting migrants.
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“There are a lot of places in the country where people can go once they cross into the United States,” Healy told a local news outlet earlier this week.
The state’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities reported that, as of Monday, there were 7,439 families in the emergency shelter system, with 3,729 in hotels and motels, 3,648 at traditional sites and 62 in temporary shelters like Joint Base Cape Cod.
On Wednesday, Healey announced that the state can no longer accommodate them and will instead place families on a waitlist, prioritizing those with the highest needs.
Under Healey’s plan, women, young children and those with acute medical needs and health issues will be given priority. The state is also considering limiting how long a family can stay in a shelter, Healey said.
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More than 1,400 families were living in shelters where National Guard troops were providing services. The Healey administration said it plans to raise the number of Guardsmen available to work unstaffed shelter sites across the state to 375, according to a report in the Boston Herald.
On Tuesday, nonprofit United Way of Massachusetts Bay announced it will take $5 million in federal funds from the Healey administration to set up overnight shelter sites for families and pregnant women with no alternative shelter options.
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“In an ideal world, our shelter system can do just what it has done — flex to accommodate a wave of people seeking shelter — but the reality is our state cannot meet the current demand,” said Bob Giannino, president and CEO at United Way.
“Massachusetts is in a new phase of managing our emergency shelter system, and we are doing everything possible to ensure the safety and well-being of families,” said Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice.
Republican state lawmaker Peter Durant introduced an amendment that would require that anyone who receives benefits from “right to shelter” be a legal resident for a minimum of three years. That bill has yet to advance in the legislature.
Source: Fox News