Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey warned on Monday that the state can no longer guarantee shelter for migrant families as the state’s shelter system reaches capacity due to a flood of illegal migrants.
Healey, a Democrat, said during a press conference at the state House that “we are entering a new phase of this challenge — we can no longer guarantee shelter placement for families who are sent here.”
Massachusetts’ shelter system is currently housing about 23,000 people, including nearly 7,000 families, according to officials. The system can house a total of 24,000 people or 7,500 families, and officials estimate it will reach capacity by the end of October.
Families with higher needs, such as health and safety risks, will be prioritized for shelter as the colder months begin, Healey said.
“I want to assure you that we will continue to engage, assess and serve every family who appeals for help as best we can,” the governor said.
Massachusetts has a “right to shelter” legal obligation to migrant and homeless families, and Healey said the state is not ending that obligation.
“We are not ending the right-to-shelter law,” Healey said. “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.”
In August, Healey declared a state of emergency over the migrant issue and activated 250 state National Guard members to aid shelters and hotels that are housing migrants.
Since then, Healey has urged the Biden administration to provide federal aid to Massachusetts for the crisis, as well as to speed up the work visa approval process for migrants.
“This again affirms my call to the Biden administration,” the governor said Monday. “I think they know and understand clearly what it is that we are seeking and those discussions are continuing. I’m hopeful that they will result in action soon for our state. But in the meantime we can’t wait.”
Other states and cities are also struggling with an huge influx of illegal migrants who have arrived in recent months.
New York City has a similar shelter crisis. Since last year, more than 118,000 migrants have arrived, with about 600 new migrants now arriving each day. More than 64,000 are still being housed on the city’s dime.
Chicago is dealing with more than 18,000 migrants, with more arriving daily. Last month, the city of Chicago signed a $29.4 million contract with a private security firm to build massive winterized camps for newly arrived illegal migrants.