News

Brendan Fitzpatrick

October 17, 2023

Healey: Massachusetts Emergency Shelters Nearing Capacity

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BOSTON - Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey announced Monday that the state’s emergency shelter system is nearing capacity.

The trend of migrants fleeing their home nations and coming to the Bay State has continued, according to the Governor, as nearly 7,000 families are within emergency shelters across the state.

Framingham has been one of the 90 communities in Massachusetts sheltering a total of around 23,000 people.

Healey noted that the Massachusetts’ right-to-shelter law is not ending, though state officials are expecting the limit of 7,500 families being sheltered in the system to be reached by the end of October. She continued to plea with President Joe Biden and the rest of the federal government to offer support for expanded services, adding that the state system cannot expand “indefinitely.”

“The reality we are facing now is this: we do not have enough space, service providers, or funds to safely expand beyond 7,500 families,” Healey said during Monday’s press conference.

“From (the end of the month) on, we’ll no longer be able to guarantee shelter placement for new families entering the system.”

In order to combat the ongoing challenges as winter approaches, Healey unveiled a list of strategies. Lieutenant General Scott Rice, a veteran of the U.S. Air Force with over 40 years of experience, was appointed as the new Emergency Assistance Director for the project.

“The bottom line is that he has the strategic and the operational expertise that we need to lead the emergency shelter system through this new reality,” Healey said.

Massachusetts officials will also aim to get families out of shelters and on their feet in order to reduce the strain on the system and to open more space for others. Access for the HomeBASE rehousing program is being prioritized alongside rental assistance and private sponsorship for sheltered families, while Healey added that affordable home access is also slated to be expanded.

The state will also reportedly work with shelters and employers to pair authorized workers with jobs across Massachusetts while also starting a job training initiative.

“(Migrants) want to work,” Healey continued.

“They want to support their families, and we have thousands of open jobs going unfilled here in our state. So we are not waiting any longer.”

In the meantime, Healey and state officials continue to urge the federal government to speed up the work authorization process.

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