Massachusetts is running out of shelter beds for families, including immigrants from other states – News21USA

BOSTON– Massachusetts shelters are exceeding capacity and running out of beds for families, including immigrants arriving from other states and residents experiencing a housing crisis just before winter, Democratic Gov. Maura Healey said.

On Thursday, the state crossed Healey’s threshold of 7,500 families seeking to be housed in emergency shelters. Healey has said families seeking shelter will be put on a waiting list once the state reaches the limit.

According to the administration, families will continue to be housed in shelters until the end of Thursday.

“Starting tomorrow, families will be housed in shelters as units become available. If no shelter units are available, families determined eligible for emergency assistance will be placed on a waiting list,” Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice said in a statement.

He said the administration will continue to work with community organizations to connect families with “safe nighttime options.”

Healey has said he doesn’t want to see families on the streets, but that the state has reached its housing capacity. The increase in demand is due in part to the arrival of immigrant families to the state.

Many of the immigrants come from other states. Some Republican-led states, including Texas and Florida, have transported migrants by bus or plane to Democratic-led states and cities, including California, Massachusetts, New York and Chicago.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has announced that he will limit stays in shelters for migrant families with children to 60 days. In Chicago, authorities have tried to relocate migrants seeking asylum from the city’s police stations and airports to winterized camps with huge tents.

Critics argue that Healey’s decision to limit shelter placement violates the state’s “right to shelter” law. Under the four-decade-old law, Massachusetts is legally required to provide emergency shelter to eligible families.

Under Healey’s plan, priority will be given to women, young children and those with medical needs and acute health problems. The state is also considering limiting the time a family can stay in a shelter, Healey said.

Now that winter is approaching, officials are fighting to prevent families from ending up on the streets. On Tuesday, Healey announced a $5 million grant program to help local organizations create overnight shelters for families and pregnant people who have no other options. Healey has also said that he is pushing federal officials to speed up the process by which immigrants can obtain work authorizations and ultimately exit the shelter system to free up more space.

On Wednesday, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a $50 million bill to establish one or more places where homeless families could find temporary shelter while they wait for a shelter space.

Democratic House Speaker Ronald Mariano said it could be a single large site like the Hynes Convention Center in Boston or smaller sites spread across the state.

“Where are these people going?” Mariano said Wednesday.

For families who have been denied shelter, the state has put together a pamphlet suggesting several options, the first of which is to “return to the last safe place you were.”

Denying families emergency shelter could force some to live in unsafe conditions, said Kelly Turley, director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.

She and other homeless advocates have pressed lawmakers to approve money for a large living space similar to the one Mariano described.

Advocates for welcoming new immigrants to the state say they are concerned about how to help those who have no friends or family and nowhere to stay.

Homeless families are housed in hundreds of locations in 90 cities and towns in a variety of facilities, from traditional shelters to temporary sites such as college dormitories.

Families will be offered shelter based on their position on the waiting list, according to guidance released last week by the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.

Highest priority will be given to families at imminent risk of domestic violence or who have an infant up to 3 months old, have family members with an immunocompromised condition, are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, or include a family member with a medical device. specifically a tracheostomy tube. Additional priority levels will take into account the age and medical needs of family members.

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