Massachusetts to utilize community center to house 60 immigrant families

Charlie Baker
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker addresses the Massachusetts Republican Convention at the DCU Center in Worcester, Mass., Saturday, April 28, 2018. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Massachusetts to utilize community center to house 60 immigrant families

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Massachusetts announced a plan Tuesday to temporarily use a community center as a housing facility for its influx of immigrants.

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) and Lieutenant Gov. Karyn Polito revealed their plan to open the Bob Eisengrein Community Center in Devens, Massachusetts, to temporarily house some 11,000 immigrants that have arrived in the state this year. The community center, opening in early December for four months, can house 60 families or 125 individuals while providing food, human services, and possible enrollment in state benefits. Devens is already a reformed U.S. Army base housing 950 residents and 100 businesses, nonprofit groups, and government organizations.

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This comes as the state also prepares to transition its Salem State University housing complex, which has been abandoned, into a similar structure to house 60 more families. Massachusetts’ Emergency Assistance system has already reached 100% capacity, according to Baker. When 50 immigrants arrived in Martha’s Vineyard in September, the island’s shelter coordinator Lisa Belcastro admitted they did not have the housing or services to assist them.

Last week, Baker filed a $139 million budget toward the right-to-shelter state’s emergency shelter placement, allotting $20 million for an entirely new temporary intake center. This budget will “provide resources to expand emergency shelter capacity to address an uptick in need for these services, which is driven in part by a recent increase in migrant entries to Massachusetts, due to federal immigration policy,” according to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.

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In addition to the increased number of immigrants, Massachusetts is dealing with a homeless population of 13,944, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report. While this represents a 16% decrease in unhoused individuals from the year before, it is a slight increase since 2007.

Mexican border camps have also experienced an influx of thousands of immigrants, under a promise of expedited legal status upon transferring to an American point of entry.

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