Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has announced a “state of emergency” and is encouraging private homeowners to provide shelter for the numerous individuals arriving in the Bay State. The state, which has a comprehensive “right to housing” policy for homeless families, is grappling with the task of accommodating legal residents who are being requested to host undocumented immigrants.
With close to 5,600 families, comprising more than 20,000 individuals, in need of shelter within the state, Healey’s administration is actively considering innovative measures to tackle the crisis. Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll stressed the pressing nature of the situation, urging residents to contemplate accommodating families in their homes if they have available spare rooms or suites.
At present, the state is providing housing for more than 1,400 families in 40 hotels across 28 cities, funded by taxpayers, with an average duration of 14 months per stay.
The recent update indicates that the state is broadening its initiatives beyond governmental actions. The Immigrant Support Alliance is conducting workshops to educate residents on becoming “host homes” for undocumented immigrants, prompting inquiries into the state’s intentions and whether there are plans to increase efforts to place illegal immigrants in private housings.
The unique “right to housing” legislation in Massachusetts mandates the state to automatically offer shelter to homeless families, a provision that has grown progressively costly. There are apprehensions about the safety of homeowners accommodating unidentified and unvetted individuals, particularly given reports of disturbances and potential risks linked to the rising stream.
State Representative Peter Durant, a Republican representing Worcester, underscored a significant surge in state spending associated with housing undocumented families, escalating from $2.6 million in 2023 to an expected $10.7 million in 2024. The escalating expenses have triggered demands for legislative adjustments, mirroring the financial burden imposed on the state.
Howie Carr, a Boston Herald columnist, has expressed reservations about the safety implications of placing undocumented immigrants in private homes. He underscored concerns related to criminal backgrounds, health considerations, and potential risks to homeowners and their families. Carr’s criticism brings attention to a broader conversation about the state’s role in ensuring the welfare of residents participating in the housing initiative.