Massachusetts Denying Shelter Beds To Homeless Families
Massachusetts is denying shelter beds to homeless people because of a lack of capacity and will simply place people on the waiting list.
The number of homeless families looking out for emergency shelter in Massachusetts is around 7500. After this, Maura Healey says that the state cannot afford to accommodate them and will simply place families on the waiting list. The people with the highest needs on the waiting list will be prioritized.
Healey says that she doesn’t want to see the families living and staying on streets but the state has no more shelter capacity. This rise in demand can be attributed to a surge of migrant families entering the state.
Massachusetts, like other areas, is facing challenges due to an increase in migrant families seeking shelter. New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams has announced a 60-day limit on shelter stays for migrant families with children. In Chicago, officials are exploring the relocation of migrants seeking asylum from police stations and airports to winterized camps equipped with large tents.
The number of families in emergency shelters in Massachusetts was 7488 on Wednesday. According to the critics, Healey’s decision to cap shelter placements violates the state’s right to shelter law. The law states that Massachusetts is legally required to provide emergency shelter to eligible and homeless families.
Healey plans to give priority to women, children, and the ones with acute medical needs and health issues. The state is also planning to come up with a limitation regarding how long a family can stay in a shelter.
The officials are working to prevent families from ending up on the street as the winter is approaching.
Healey also announced a $5 Million grant program to help local organizations create overnight shelters for families and pregnant women with no other option available to them. The lawmakers are also considering a bill to set aside $50 Million to set up some locations that homeless families can use as a temporary shelter.
Healey is also pressing federal officials to speed up the process because migrants can get work authorizations and exit the shelter system to free up more space.
Denying emergency shelter to families can result in unsafe living conditions. Besides this, several homeless advocates have asked the legislature to approve the money for creating some locations.
Advocates welcoming the new migrants are also concerned about how to help the ones who have no family or friends.
Presently, the families are housed in hundreds of locations in 90 cities and towns along with the facilities like traditional shelters to temporary sites. The state also issued guidance on the proposed changes to be made in the shelter system.
The allocation of priority for shelter will primarily focus on families facing imminent domestic violence risks or those with infants aged up to 3 months. Priority will also be given to families with immunocompromised members, those experiencing high-risk pregnancies, or those including a member with a medical device like a tracheostomy tube. Further priority levels will consider the age and medical requirements of family members.
Based on the position on the waiting list, the families will be offered available shelter units. The eligible families will be contacted by an email or a phone call. Also, families who have been on the waiting list for more than six months will have to undergo another assessment to confirm their eligibility.
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LeBlanc Steve. “Massachusetts to begin denying shelter beds to homeless families, putting names on a waitlist”. PBS News Hour, November 8, 2023,
Last Updated: September 20, 2021