BOSTON (WWLP) – The governor said that up to 50 families a day are enrolling in emergency shelters in Massachusetts, but what happens when the state runs out of space?

With the emergency shelter cap about to be reached, it’s still unknown if House and Senate leaders plan to step in to help with the housing crisis. When Governor Healey took office in January, there were about 3,800 families in state shelters. As of Thursday, there are around 7,400.

A state judge ruled this week that Healey can in fact cap those living in emergency shelters to 7,500 which is expected to be reached in the coming days. So this begs the question, what will happen to the 7,501st family?

The administration has put in place a wait list system that will triage families based on needs. The first category prioritizes families that are at “imminent risk of harm due to domestic violence”, families that the Department of Children and Families have determined are at the highest risk of harm, and families that meet one or more of the following criteria

  • A family member age 0 to three months
  • An immunocompromised family member, an individual with a high-risk pregnancy, or someone with a tracheostomy tube.

“Well, probably half of the folks who are in shelter right now are Massachusetts families who have been here who are experiencing and have experienced housing insecurity. We’ve laid out the parameters, we also have to be clear and transparent with the public about what’s actually happening and I think we have to be prepared to be nimble and flexible with regard to the implementation,” Governor Healey said.

Now this week, House Speaker Ron Mariano made it clear that the house has no plans to make changes to the right to shelter law here in the Commonwealth. Healey also said this week that she continues to call on the Biden Administration for help and support.

Local News

Ellen Fleming is a reporter at the Boston State House who has been a part of the 22News team since 2022. Follow Ellen on X @EllenFlem and view her bio to see more of her work.