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Massachusetts to spend additional $245 million for shelters as migrant crisis worsens

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(The Center Square) – The Massachusetts House of Representatives approved an additional $245 million for emergency family shelters as an increasing migrant population in the state continues to overflood the system.

House members are trying to limit shelter stays to nine months as part of the bill. The current average is 13-14 months.

Governor Maura Healey attempted to take a burden off the program last fall by capping the number of families to 7,500. But as of last week, there are still over 700 families on the waitlist, NBC News reported.

Massachusetts is the only state with a “right-to-shelter” law. However, state officials are concerned that the system currently in place is unsustainable. “It’s been growing by the day, month to month,” House Ways and Means Committee Chair Aaron Michlewitz said. “This is a way for us to find a way to continue to do the program, keep it as one of the most beneficial programs in the entire country on this discussion, but also make sure that we’re creating a system that is sustainable.”

Some Massachusetts municipalities are concerned about the growing influx of migrants. A letter to Governor Healey from the town of Stoughton last month details how the city has had to shoulder more migrants than it can maintain and more than most other Massachusetts communities. “When it was determined that certain communities including the Town of Stoughton would have larger consolidation facilities, the Town did not have any input,” Thomas Calter, Stoughton’s Town Manager, wrote.

The letter requests more state funding for the 230 migrant families the town is responsible for. “As a former State Rep.,” Calter said, “I understand that the State experienced a revenue shortfall and is most likely not in the position to directly reimburse communities like the Town of Stoughton for the unforeseen costs associated with housing migrants. If this is the case, I am respectfully requesting that you find another way to compensate the community.”

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