Massachusetts Plans More “Welcome Centers” for Migrants, Homeless Families

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Alison Kuznitz
State House News Service

More centers that are designed to provide resources to a mounting influx of migrants and people experiencing homelessness will soon launch in Massachusetts as officials grapple with steadily rising demand, a Healey spokesperson pledged Thursday. But for weeks, officials have refrained from disclosing where exactly those additional “family welcome centers” will be located.

“Our administration is closely collaborating with local, state, federal and community partners to expand housing capacity and explore all options as we plan to open more Family Welcome Centers in the coming weeks, which will ease access to services for families,” Karissa Hand, a Healey spokesperson, said in a statement.

The first state-run center opened at the Brazilian Worker Center in Allston on June 23 to provide food, baby formula, diapers and other basic necessities to immigrant families — dozens of whom were deemed eligible to live temporarily in townhomes at Joint Base Cape Cod. At the time, an HHS spokesperson told the News Service that the administration was “actively researching additional sites for Welcome Centers” and had pledged “more information will be available in the coming weeks.”

Migrant families can no longer seek shelter at Boston Medical Center, with a new hospital policy directing employees to send them in Ubers to where they stayed the prior night or to a different preferred location in the state, the Boston Globe reported earlier this week. More than 100 migrants showed up at BMC last week looking for shelter, according to the Globe.

The state’s Allston center is open daily from 12-8 p.m., a Healey administration official said. Families who arrive outside of the center’s operating hours are advised to seek shelter at the last safe place where they slept, the official said. Officials do “everything in our power” to ensure all eligible people have safe places to sleep every night, the official added.

“Massachusetts has seen a steady rise in the number of families experiencing homelessness, driven by high housing costs and new arrivals to the state,” Hand said Thursday. “Our emergency shelter system has had to expand each month since September 2022.”

The Allston center is now connecting immigrants with health services and enrolling them into MassHealth, Department of Transitional Assistance program and the Women, Infants and Child Nutrition Program, among other supports, the official said. Joint Base Cape Cod, whose shelter options are capable of accommodating up to 60 families, was nearing capacity at the end of June with 53 families staying there, according to the most recent data shared by the Healey administration.

About Michael Silvia

Served 20 years in the United States Air Force. Owner of New Bedford Guide.

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