Immigration Law

Homeless Shelters in Massachusetts Raise Concerns as Lawmakers Aim to Limit Family Stay

Homeless Shelters in Massachusetts Raise Concerns as Lawmakers Aim to Limit Family Stay

Homeless shelter providers in Massachusetts are raising concerns as lawmakers are aiming to move legislation that will limit stays to nine months for the first time in 40-year history of its “right to shelter” law.  

This state is the only state in the US to provide families and pregnant women the right to shelter, which existed since 1983. But the system has come under a historic strain due to increased influx of migrant families and a growing number of families being displaced due to unaffordable housing market.  

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, a little over half of the current 7,500 families in the state’s emergency shelter system have been those who have come over as refugees or migrants.  

The Massachusetts House of Representatives has passed a new spending bill in March stating an average of billion-dollar plan for addressing the shelter crisis. Moreover, the Senate has passed a new version, mandating leaders from the chambers to enter negotiations for working out their differences. Both the bills would impose a nine-month limit on emergency shelters stays. However, the sticking points tend to include what kind of extensions could be given to families and how the proposals would be funded.  

Moreover, shelter directors hope that the legislation shall be including meaningful extensions past the initial nine months for struggling families. This is because, the average length of stays for families in the system is nearly twice as long. This is about sixteen months long in accordance with Executive Office of Housing and Liveable Communities.  

This is a cap on the number of people who can live in the shelter, following the accelerated filling over the proof in the usage of it. Executive Office for Housing and Liveable Communities indicated in its report that for the month of March 2022, there are nearly 3,000 families being served by the statewide shelter system.  

By the end of just the first year into this scheme, the system sheltered almost 4,000 families. The month of April will be significant for the shelters as they had about 7,500 families under their board feet, with over 3,500 being in the system’s traditional units and the rest in hotels.  

Presently, there are 736 other families on a list either waiting in lines or sleeping on the street for emergency shelter. Leaders of the shelter report that the arrival of the migrant family and the afflicted system has created more injurious condition. 

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Nilanjana Basu
Nilanjana is a lawyer with a flair for writing. She has a certification in American Laws from Penn Law (Pennsylvania University). Along with this, she has been known to write legal articles that allow the audience to know about American laws and regulations at ease.

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