(VitalNews.org) – The migrant crisis in the United States has pushed Massachusetts’ emergency shelter system to its brink, according to recent data, as reported by the Boston Herald.
In Massachusetts, emergency shelters are designed to offer temporary accommodation to 7,500 families. However, Democratic Governor Maura Healey has disclosed that the state has hit its maximum capacity and is now forced to turn away people, putting them on a waiting list instead.
As of Thursday afternoon, WCVB reported that 7,517 families are seeking refuge in the state’s shelter system. The statistics show that over 3,800 families have been accommodated in hotels, around 3,650 in conventional shelters, and a small fraction of 61 in temporary emergency shelter spaces.
Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice announced that the capacity limit would be enforced at the close of the day. “Our family shelter system is now accommodating 7,500 families, and unfortunately, we find ourselves with insufficient units, service providers, or funding to expand further safely,” Rice said in a statement on Thursday.
He added that eligible families will be added to a waitlist if no units are available. Rice affirmed the administration’s commitment to providing resources, basic necessities, and support to arriving families and collaborating with community partners to secure safe overnight alternatives.
Priority for shelter accommodation will be given to families with high-risk pregnancies, those with medical conditions, infants up to three months old, or those using medical devices.
In August, Governor Healey declared a state of emergency in response to the increasing number of migrants seeking shelter in Massachusetts. She urged the Biden administration to lend a hand, labeling the crisis a “national concern.” Following this, she planned to deploy 250 National Guard members to provide food, basic needs, transportation, and medical care.
As the shelter capacity neared its limit, Healey activated more National Guard members earlier this week. She also initiated a $5 million grant program with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay to finance overnight safety-net shelters.
Lawmakers approved a $250 million bill on Wednesday to “support the commonwealth’s response to the ongoing humanitarian crisis and the influx of families seeking shelter.” The legislation dedicates $50 million to establish one or more overflow sites.
House Speaker Ronald Mariano (D) suggested that the Hynes Convention Center could be used as a potential overflow site. He expressed concern about where the incoming migrants would find shelter, particularly those arriving late on a Friday night.
Massachusetts holds the unique position of being the only state in the country with a right-to-shelter law.
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