WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The ongoing migrant housing crisis has led to some controversy as state leaders struggle to make accommodations. A decision is still yet to be made on the Westfield State University campus.
This proposed possibility of migrants being housed on campus is contentious, and so 22News spoke to both the president of Westfield State University and the Mayor of Westfield about how they feel.
As Massachusetts continues to work through an ongoing housing crisis with hotels and motels already operating as emergency shelters, nearly 30 additional sites are being considered as a potential solution. Among them are local universities including Westfield State University.
In a facility assessment survey prepared by the state, it determined that the University’s Lammers Hall was a “feasible” location to serve as an emergency assistance shelter for migrants. It hasn’t gone without some concerns by those in the community though.
“I personally am not anti-immigration, the City of Westfield is not anti-immigration but we’re not thrilled with the thought of immigration and migrants being at Lammers Hall simply because we don’t believe it’s a good fit,” said Mayor Michael McCabe.
McCabe told 22News that Lammers Hall is located directly in the center of Westfield State’s University’s campus, another reason it doesn’t make sense for the school and migrant’s social fabric. While the report done did technically conclude that migrants could feasibly live in this building, the livability of these dorms are still under question.
The dorms in Lammers Hall were closed in the summer of 2022 because of a decline in enrollment but if migrants were to live there now, 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.
“Campus is really a campus that is designed to educate students, that’s our mission and that’s what we really are designed to do and what we really want to do,” said Westfield State University President, Dr. Linda Thompson.
Westfield State added that they should have an official statement on this topic out sometime next week.