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Emergency migrant shelter at Melnea Cass Recreation Center in Roxbury closes

Migrant shelter closes in Roxbury, rec center to reopen to residents
Migrant shelter closes in Roxbury, rec center to reopen to residents 02:53

BOSTON - The Roxbury recreation center which temporarily served as an emergency shelter for migrants has closed ahead of schedule. 

At the end of January, the Melnea Cass Recreation Center opened to dozens of migrant families, some of whom were camping out at Logan Airport. The move was welcomed by some community members and criticized by others who said the rec center is a vital resource for young people in the community. 

Community members ready to go back to rec center

The rec center was supposed to cease being a shelter by May 31 but was already empty on May 20. 

Community member, Mae Smith, said she is looking forward to getting back in the rec center pool which she has enjoyed for decades. "I like the pool. I'm not such a great swimmer but I like the pool," Smith said. 

The state continues to house new migrant families as the flow of new arrivals has slowed down a bit. 

Last fall, the state saw an average of 30 to 40 families seeking emergency shelter every day, according to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. That number has gone down to 22 families a day. 

Finding housing options still a challenge

Xan Weber, Senior Vice President at the International Institute of New England or IINE, says her group continues to help a steady flow of new migrants. Finding stable housing options for them is still a challenge. 

"This is going to be the toughest part of the work and it's because migrant families are not getting prioritized ahead of other people when it comes to finding affordable stable housing," Weber said. 

To meet the need, the state is seeking new emergency shelter options like converting a closed jail in Norfolk to a shelter. 

Weber says uncertainty remains about what will happen when families meet the new nine month time limit in the shelter system.
"It's so challenging to find the affordable housing," she said. 

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