The Office for Refugees and Immigrants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts intends to open more central entry points “in the coming weeks” to enable more families to obtain services as more migrant and homeless families in need of shelter and other help arrive in Massachusetts.
The announcement follows The Globe’s report that Boston Medical Center had implemented a new policy that prevents migrant families from seeking refuge in its emergency room and, in some circumstances, even sends them to Logan Airport in Ubers after-hours.
In a statement to the Globe on Wednesday, Cristina Aguilera, the office’s executive director, said, “We are appreciative of BMC’s work in aiding unhoused families. “Our administration is dedicated to making sure that families have access to safe and secure housing, and we are working nonstop to address the increased demand for services and temporary housing.”
In addition to expanding the number of “Family Welcome Centers,” Aguilera stated that the office is collaborating with other state and federal agencies to increase housing capacity in order to relieve the strain on the already overburdened shelter system.
In Allston, the state just launched the first Family Welcome Center, where staff members have been assisting families in getting access to necessary goods, services, and transportation to shelters, including a brand-new one at Joint Base Cape Cod.
The ORI declined to give specifics regarding the new centers, such as how many will be opening and where they would be situated.
The newcomers to Massachusetts are showing up at sites like BMC at all hours looking for a place to sleep; many of them are fleeing political unrest, street violence, and economic collapse in their native countries.
The Healey administration asserted that the Family Welcome Centers will lessen this burden and provide people with more immediate access to resources.
As a right-to-shelter state, Massachusetts requires the government to provide care for some homeless families, including immigrant families.
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Since the state does not distinguish between migrants and people seeking shelter, it is challenging to estimate the number of migrants arriving.
However, the sheer volume of arrivals has depleted the state’s supply of shelter space, forcing authorities to use vacant dorms and hotel rooms. There were 1,217 homeless families staying in hotel shelters alone as of Tuesday. There were 388 when Governor Maura Healey took office in January.
A representative for the governor claimed in a statement that “placing families into emergency shelter occurs throughout the day and into the evening as families seek shelter at all hours.”
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