BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Maura Healey has declared a state of emergency for Massachusetts on Monday due to the rapidly rising number of migrant families coming to the state in need of shelter.
Healey is asking the federal government for help as the state continues to increase housing at an unsustainable level. There are currently more than 5,600 families and more than 20,000 people in state shelter. This number is 80 percent higher than it was last year at this time.
“State employees and our partners have been miracle workers throughout this crisis – going above and beyond to support families and using every tool at their disposal to expand shelter capacity by nearly 80 percent in the last year. But in recent months, demand has increased to levels that our emergency shelter system cannot keep up with, especially as the number of families leaving shelter has dwindled due to a lack of affordable housing options and barriers to securing work,” said Governor Maura Healey.
“Our Emergency Assistance system is designed to be a temporary, emergency safety-net program. It is not equipped to handle the demand that we have seen in recent months. While we have made herculean efforts to expand capacity as much as possible, we’ve reached a point where the expansion is unsustainable,” said Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll.
In a letter sent to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Healey asks for the federal government to increase funding to states providing shelters and services to migrant families. Healey says federal policies on immigration, inadequate production of affordable housing over the last decade and the end of COVID-19 era food and housing assistance are just some of the reasons for the state of emergency.
As of now, 43 hotels and motels around the state are being used as emergency shelters and just last week it was announced that a dorm at Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy would be used to shelter up to 58 families.
Healey is also calling on local towns, charities, advocates, faith organizations and providers able to help meet the need for shelter and work. Anyone that can offer assistance can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund was also announced to help new arrivals in the state get essential items they need. You can donate on the United Way of Massachusetts website. The fund will be used to buy food, clothing, diapers, hygiene items and more for migrant families in need.
To volunteer to become a host family, contact the Brazilian Worker Center, email the state to offer assistance at email@example.com, or by dialing 211.
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