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Massachusetts Governor Says Family Shelters Have Reached Capacity

'For months now, we have been expanding shelter capacity at an unsustainable rate to meet rising demand'

The governor of Massachusetts says the state can no longer accommodate families in need of shelter following a rise in illegal immigration.

Governor Maura Healey announced that the state’s emergency family shelter system will be full at the end of the month. The system is intended to assist families experiencing homelessness and has become overloaded by the arrival of migrant families.

The state estimated the total number of people relying on the service will swell to 7,500 families, or 24,000 individuals, by the end of October. 

For months now, we have been expanding shelter capacity at an unsustainable rate to meet rising demand,” Healey said in a press conference at the State House on Oct. 16. “Despite the heroic work of public officials, shelter providers and the National Guard, we have reached a point where we can no longer safely or responsibly expand. … We will continue to help families exit shelter and move into more permanent housing options, connect those who are eligible with work opportunities to support their families, and advocate for the federal government to step up and address this federal problem.” 

On Nov. 1, Massachusetts will stop adding new places in shelters and will begin prioritizing placement for families that are considered to be “high need.” As part of its efforts to connect adults in the shelters with employment opportunities, Massachusetts launched the Immigrant Assistance Services (IAS) program in July. The state-funded IAS helps immigrants residing in the state’s shelters obtain work authorization and with any asylum and Temporary Protected Status applications.

The state also began offering legal services to migrants in September to assist with their resettlement.

“We are not ending the right-to-shelter law,” said the governor. “We are being very clear, though, that we are not going to be able to guarantee placement for folks who are sent here after the end of this month.”

Healey stressed her hope that the Biden administration would act “soon” and provide additional aid to the state. She noted the financial burden of the additional caring for the migrants, the majority of whom are Haitian, per Politico

The Democrat is not the only Northeastern governor to appeal to President Joe Biden for additional support following a steady increase in immigrants without legal status. 

Governor Kathy Hochul said in May that New York was “bursting at the seams” as it struggled to accommodate new arrivals across the state. She estimated that New York City alone was housing between 40,000 to 61,000 migrants during an appearance on MSNBC. 

Hochul asked the Biden administration for additional federal support in August, writing in a letter to the president that “the City and the State are incurring these unexpected expenditures in the midst of declining tax revenues while costs are rising.”

“This is a financial burden the City and State are shouldering on behalf of the federal government,” she wrote. “While the State appreciates the $145 million contribution that the federal government has made to this effort, this allotment of funds is insufficient. The costs to provide services and assistance to migrants arriving in New York are high and the need for federal assistance is clear.”

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