Massachusetts to let homeless stay in Boston transportation building overnight as emergency shelter system hits state limit of 7,500 families

Massachusetts announced plans Monday to let homeless families spend the night at the state transportation building in Boston as officials scramble to find shelter for newly arrived families after reach a state-imposed limit of 7,500 families in the state’s emergency homeless shelter system.

The space in the office building is large enough to provide overnight accommodation for up to 25 families with cots and limited amenities and will only be used in the evenings and overnight, officials said.

“To ensure that families eligible for emergency assistance have a safe, warm place to sleep at night when there is no immediately available housing unit, the administration is using space at 10 Park Plaza as a temporary overnight facility,” the state emergency service said. Assistance General Manager Scott Rice said in a statement.

As of Friday, there were 92 families on the state’s waiting list for emergency shelter.

The Transportation Building includes offices for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which operates Greater Boston’s transit system, and other transportation agencies.

The new shelter space will only be available to families who have been assessed at a state shelter site and found eligible for emergency assistance, officials said. The site is temporary and is expected to operate for about two weeks until an additional safety-net shelter program is operational, according to the administration.

The announcement of the temporary space comes after state lawmakers ended their official session for the year last week without an agreement on a $2.8 billion spending bill that included hundreds of million dollars to address the state’s emergency shelters that are collapsing under a crush on a migrant and homeless families.

House and Senate bills would dedicate $250 million to the shelter system, but a conference committee was unable to resolve other disputes.

Democratic House Speaker Ronald Mariano said reports of families sleeping at Logan International Airport and now at the state Transportation Building are emblematic of the need for funding specifically earmarked for anti-virus shelters. overflow.

“The House remains committed to ensuring that Massachusetts families have a safe, warm place to sleep at night and will continue to urge the administration to identify additional overflow shelter sites in the future,” a he declared Monday in a press release.

Other states have faced a similar surge in housing demand. In New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced he was limiting shelter stays for migrant families with children to 60 days. Chicago Paris mayor plans to limit stays to 60 days as authorities transfer migrants from city police stations and airports to winterized camps with massive tents. In October, the city of Denver purchased 38 combined plane and bus tickets for migrants bound for Boston.

In Massachusetts, homeless families sought shelter in churches, hospital waiting rooms and even airport lounges after the state’s emergency shelter system was established. reaches its limit last week, forcing some homeless people to be put on a waiting list as colder weather begins to grip the state.

Local advocates trying to help homeless families have expressed frustration as they struggle to find safe places to spend the night.

The increase in demand is partly due to the arrival of migrant families in the state. About half of current refugees are new arrivals to Massachusetts, according to Democratic Gov. Maura Healey’s administration.

Lawmakers don’t formally meet to vote until the new year, but leaders in both chambers say they’re still hopeful a deal can be reached in this year’s informal sessions. However, legislative rules make it easier for bills to be derailed in informal sessions.

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