CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – We are hearing from more state leader, as emergency shelters across the state has reached the limit for housing migrant and homeless families.
There are now more than 7,500 families in emergency shelters across Massachusetts, exceeding the state’s capacity to house migrant and homeless families.
The city of Springfield sheltering the largest amount of unhoused families in Western Massachusetts, with state data showing more than 200 families. State Rep. Angelo Puppolo, told 22News, “This problem dumped from the federal government has to be dealt with and its more burdensome for the states to handle.”
West Springfield, Chicopee, and Holyoke, sheltering between 51 to 200 families, that number also seen in the Franklin County city of Greenfield. And in Hampshire County, South Hadley, Hadley, and Amherst, sheltering between 1 and 50 families.
The Healey Administration says families are still being placed into shelters until all units are occupied, then a waitlist would begin for eligible families in need of emergency assistance. According to the state, priority will be given to families at risk of domestic violence, those who have an infant up to three months, have an immunocompromised family member, are experiencing a high-risk pregnancy, or have specific medical needs.
A recent $5 million grant program from the state will also allow communities to create what the state is calling ‘stand up short-term overnight sites’ for families and pregnant individuals with no alternative shelter options.
The House, also approving $250 million for emergency assistance, $50 million of those funds, to go towards the overflow emergency shelter sites for families placed on the waiting list.
“If we can get a work waiver, if we can put people to work and if we can start utilizing some of these other opportunities and the federal government shuts this down, lets deal with what we got and try to move on,” Puppolo added. The Department of Homeland Security’s authorization clinic will be extended into late November to help more shelter residents process work authorizations.
In the past few weeks, the state reports that about 300 people within the shelter system are working with MassHire, and have connected with local employers.