WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A vacant dormitory at Westfield State University will no longer be considered to house migrant families, Westfield Mayor Michael McCabe announced Thursday.
In 2021 Lammers Hall on the campus of Westfield State University (WSU) was determined to be unsuitable for a shelter. The dorms in Lammers Hall were closed in the summer of 2022 because of a decline in enrollment.
On August 8th, Governor Maura Healey declared an emergency housing crisis and proposed the possibility of migrant families being housed there. If migrants were to live there, they’d have to contend with no elevators, no air conditioning, limited meeting space, and the possibility of asbestos, according to the summary of the survey of the building.
According to a news release from the City of Westfield, during the evaluation of Lammers Hall, Mayor McCabe met with WSU President Linda Thompson as well as state officials to discuss the location and its facilities with the needs of the migrant families in crisis.
Mayor McCabe was told Thursday that Governor Healey has decided Lammers Hall is no longer being considered as an option for emergency shelter.
“While we are empathetic to the dire need for sheltering families in crisis, and we know that State University properties in other cities have been used successfully for this purpose, we understood that Lammers Hall presented significant challenges that would make it possible, but not easy, to meet the goals of Governor Healey’s sheltering efforts,” Mayor McCabe said.
22News also spoke with State Senator John Velis of Westfield, who was recently activated by the Massachusetts National Guard as part of their mission to support the Commonwealth’s Emergency Assistance Shelter System.
Senator Velis told 22News that he voiced his concerns to the Healey administration, and this was the right decision, “You can’t try to solve one problem, the immigration problem, by exacerbating and worsening another problem, higher education. Those students are there to learn. Their parents, their families, they didn’t pay for them to have that experience, it just wasn’t the right decision. And today was a really good decision.”
Velis adds that the continue lack of help from the federal government is hurting Massachusetts in many ways. He says if they won’t send federal funding, they could offer government buildings to help with this crisis.
Last week, Governor Healey said the state’s emergency shelter system will reach capacity by the end of the month. There are currently more than 7,000 families being sheltered.
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