WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – As the state’s emergency system inches closer to max capacity, local cities and towns are feeling the strain on current resources.
While pushing for more federal assistance, the state is utilizing available funds to encourage more non-profits and faith-based groups to open their doors to migrant families.
A new partnership between the Healey Administration & United Way of Massachusetts Bay will create a $5-million grant program to support organizations in providing short-term shelter sites. This is welcoming news for local cities like West Springfield, where the Clarion Hotel is serving as a migrant-housing site.
West Springfield Mayor William Reichelt told 22News, “It is a large burden on our school system and on the community as a whole, you know for West Springfield to take in 100 families, means over 300-ish people.”
Mayor Reichelt says that West Springfield will continue to help migrant families as much as it can, while also saying that the burden shouldn’t be heavily falling on just certain communities.
“Working with different organizations to try to house people. I think is important, but it’s also important to keep in mind how they’re settled throughout the region so that one community is not overburdened versus another community,” said Reichelt.
The new grant program is set to be implemented in the winter to help families on the emergency shelter waitlist, who do not have overnight shelter options. Approved organizations will be able to use grant funding to pay for things like beds, food, blankets and increased staffing costs.
22News spoke with Sarang Sekhavat, the Chief of Staff of the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, on what resources are currently available for newly arrived migrants, including employment authorization documents.
“There really needs to be more. There’s a lot more work that needs to be done and we need to see the resources there for it and hopefully clear up space for folks who more recently become homeless,” said Sekhavat.
Right now, there are 7,488 families enrolled in emergency shelter statewide. The max is 7,500.