Brendan Fitzpatrick

November 9, 2023

State to Offer Grants for Short-Term Emergency Shelter Sites

Photo courtesy of Ajay Suresh

BOSTON - Massachusetts officials are launching a grant program for local organizations to set up short-term emergency shelter sites amid the continued influx of migrants into the state.

Lt. General Scott Rice, the state’s Emergency Assistance Director, made the announcement on Tuesday as the Massachusetts emergency shelter system approaches its maximum capacity. Governor Maura Healey mentioned in October that the system can only handle up to 7,500 families. Rice noted that by the end of the week, the state is expecting that limit to be reached by Thursday.

“Massachusetts is in a new phase of this challenge,” Rice said in a statement read at a press conference on Tuesday.

“We do not have enough shelter space, service providers, or funding to safely expand beyond 7,500 families.”

With the winter arriving soon, state leaders have partnered with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay to administer the $5 million grant program. Money will be distributed to volunteer organizations, faith-based groups, and other local establishments in order to set up overnight shelters for those on the waitlist for the main shelter program. Existing federal dollars aimed at shelter and housing solutions are funding the grant program, according to state officials.

Additional members of the Massachusetts National Guard have also been activated to assist in sheltering matters, according to Rice.

The number of migrants entering the Massachusetts emergency shelter system has been felt in dozens of Bay State communities, including Framingham. Jewish Family Service of Metrowest and the Community Foundation of MetroWest have been some of the local organizations that have been aiding in sheltering efforts over the past few months.

“We have a number of community partners that are stepping up in the short term as we move into the United Way program," Rice continued, adding that the number of additional sites established in the Bay State comes down to the number of groups available to help as well as the United Way's discretion.

In the meantime, Massachusetts and federal officials are still preparing for the work authorization clinic during the week of November 13 as a way to move migrant families out of the shelter system and into the state’s workforce and stable housing environments. Rice said an additional clinic is being scheduled for the week after Thanksgiving, while the state continues to work towards speeding up the work authorization and job training process.

For more details on the grant program, click here.

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