Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, August 8, 2023
Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey declared a state of emergency Tuesday, citing an influx of migrants seeking shelter at a time when the cost of housing — already in short supply — continues to rise.
There are nearly 5,600 families or more than 20,000 people – many of whom are migrants — currently living in state shelters, including infants, young children and pregnant women. That is up from around 3,100 families a year ago, about an 80% increase, Healey said.
Many of the migrants are arriving by plane from other states. In the past 48 hours alone, she said, 50 migrant families have landed in the state in need of shelter.
“It’s exponentially more than our state has ever served in our emergency assistance program,” she said. “These numbers are being driven by a surge in new arrivals in our country who have been through some of the hardest journeys imaginable.”
The migrants arriving in Massachusetts are the face of the international migrant crisis and are coming at a time when the state is already experiencing a housing crunch, Healey said.
She called on the federal government for financial help, and more urgently, expedited work authorizations to allow the new arrivals to more quickly find jobs and start earning a living, she wrote in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.
As a right-to-shelter state, Massachusetts is legally required to provide eligible families shelter through its emergency assistance program.
Healey and state lawmakers should rescind the state’s right-to-shelter policy, said Paul Diego Craney of the Massachusetts Fiscal Alliance, a conservative group.
“Perhaps it is time for the governor to take a trip to the southern border to see firsthand the open southern border crisis,” he said in a statement.