Governor Forced To Convert Prison into Migrant Shelter

( Governor Maura Healey, a Democrat in Massachusetts, has utilized a former prison as housing for homeless people, including many immigrants.

About 4,000 applications for asylum were approved in 2023 and the waitlist for housing continues to grow. In mid-December, the emergency shelter program had 3,500 people looking for state assistance with housing. Many of these people don’t have anywhere to go and have been camping at the Logan International Airport in Boston.

Governor Healy has been criticized for being hypocritical because she previously denounced policies under President Trump that led to minors being held in cages. Now, her state is needing to use a former jail to house immigrants and homeless people after a large influx of asylum seekers have flooded into the state.

The Bay State Correctional Center has not been used as a prison since 2015, but officials say the building is in suitable condition. It has the capability of housing up to 140 families with bathroom facilities and showers on every floor.

A state representative, Marcus Vaughan, has concerns about the potential impact on public services, including the school system. The cost of educating the additional students is one of the main issues brought up by Representative Vaughan. Governor Healy said the state will provide emergency funding in the amount of $104 per student per day. The number of people in the emergency assistance programs significantly increased from about 3,600 in December 2022 to over 7,500 in December 2023.

The significant increase is causing strain on government resources, but the governor and the state government are required to provide emergency housing to families that have nowhere to stay. Massachusetts is a “right-to-shelter” state and is the only state in the country with this designation.

Despite the requirement to offer emergency shelter, there is currently a cap on the shelter spaces available to those who need them. The correctional center is expected to be used as emergency housing for six to 12 months.

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