Migrant shelter displaces community rec center

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(The Center Square) – A Massachusetts community center offering vital youth programs has been commandeered by Gov. Maura Healey to shelter migrants.

The Melnea Cass Recreational Center, which houses a youth track-and-field club in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston, has been filled with cots and playpens to provide emergency housing for up to 400 migrants.

Healey proposed the site following the discovery that dozens of migrants had taken shelter in Boston’s Logan Airport after existing shelters hit maximum capacity.

The commonwealth’s 7,500 migrant family cap for emergency shelter maxed out in November, forcing Massachusetts to waitlist families.

The governor claims the decision to use the recreation center to house migrants was made out of necessity.

“We’re here today because we really don’t have a choice,” Healey said while touring the facility.

The center is slated to be used as a temporary shelter through the end of May, drawing criticism for a decision to house migrants in a historically Black and underserved neighborhood.

Boston Mayor Michelle Wu echoed concerns from community members upset with the decision to use the center to house migrants while uprooting members of the community.

“There is pain and recognition this is not the first time the community has been asked to sacrifice,” she said. “We will work with the state to make sure all options are on the table.”

“[The Roxbury] community that over so many decades has faced disinvestment, redlining, disproportionate outcomes, it’s very painful and it’s painfully familiar,” Wu said during a radio interview earlier this week.

“It feels like a particular inflection point when we are no taking offline buildings that are beloved and well-used and dedicated to community programs because we now have such a crisis,” added the mayor.

Healey has vowed to find temporary places to host activities while in use as a shelter; she is also pledging to fund updates to the center once it is no longer needed to house migrants.

Healey has requested an additional $250 million in funds to deal with the crisis, which her administration estimates could ultimately cost taxpayers nearly $1 billion next year.

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