News & Updates
Thursday, July 20, 2023

From State House News Service: Migrant Influx Fills Hotels, Strains Shelter Capacity

Alison Kuznitz/SHNS, 2023, State House News Source

Catholic Charities Boston was recently highlighted in an article by the State House News Service regarding a triage center in Allston recently opened by the Healey administration for migrants and people experiencing homelessness.

The Family Welcome Center, which opened on June 23, has played a critical role in addressing the influx of people seeking help and providing basic necessities while the state works on the short-term emergency and longer-term plans, including expanding the shelter system in Massachusetts. Beth Chambers, Vice President of Basic Needs for Catholic Charities Boston, was quoted in the piece about the work the Agency is doing, including opening a 45-room hotel shelter in Boston earlier this month

“Beyond welcome centers, the Healey administration has been quietly expanding the state’s emergency shelter system. The Archdiocese of Boston, for example, was recently asked by state officials if any of its buildings could be refurbished to settle immigrant families, said J. Bryan Hehir, secretary of health and social services for Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Hehir said the Archdiocese identified four buildings in Boston and nine in the greater metropolitan area, including former convents, schools and parish rectories where priests formerly lived.

“It’s up then to the state to look at them and decide whether they can refashion them to make them available,” Hehir said. “The government has a responsibility to shelter people who arrive, so that’s the immediate crisis.”

Catholic Charities, an agency of the Archdiocese, worked with state officials to open a 45-room hotel shelter in Boston earlier this month, said Beth Chambers, who’s vice president of basic needs. The shelter is expected to remain open for at least two years, Chambers said.

About 48 people were staying there as of Monday, though Chambers said she expects that figure to reach closer to 120 when the hotel expands its capacity. All hotel rooms have two queen size beds, a private bathroom, microwave and refrigerator, she said.

Chambers said the majority of residents so far are immigrants, especially from Haiti, but there’s also homeless individuals who needed to be relocated closer to Boston to access medical care.

She and fellow social workers are constantly responding to questions from new arrivals, such as how to register for state benefits and enroll their children into Boston Public Schools. There are no language barriers at the hotel, Chambers said, as staff are on hand who speak Haitian Creole.”

Families seeking emergency assistance can apply by calling 866-584-0653 or visiting regional offices.

To read the full story, visit the link to the State House News Service piece on WBZ here.

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