Watch CBS News

Massachusetts emergency family shelter system due to hit limit "Wednesday or Thursday"

Massachusetts migrant shelters will hit limit Wednesday or Thursday
Massachusetts migrant shelters will hit limit Wednesday or Thursday 02:33

BOSTON - Massachusetts should reach the limit on the number of families allowed in the state's emergency shelter system by "Wednesday or Thursday," Emergency Assistance Director Scott Rice said Tuesday.

As of Monday, 7,439 families were enrolled, many of them migrants. Governor Maura Healey said last month that the Commonwealth "does not have enough shelter space, service providers, or funding to safely expand beyond 7,500 families."

Once the state reaches that limit, a waitlist will be started. Families who come to Massachusetts and need shelter will then be put on that list until space is available for them. Rice said they will be given a list of "community partners," like the United Way, that are helping with the shelter crisis. He also told reporters at a news conference Tuesday that more members of the Massachusetts National Guard will be activated.

"Before today, the guard had authorized a total of 300 members to assist at hotel sites across the state and at Joint Base Cape Cod. We're raising that number to 375. The increase will help provide further assistance at hotel sites along with our legal clinic scheduled for next week to connect people to work opportunities," Rice said.

Massachusetts is currently the only state in the nation with a "right to shelter" law, which was enacted back in 1983. The recent surge of migrants to the state has some lawmakers now saying that law needs to be changed. 

Critics said the governor's waitlist plan violates the "right-to-shelter" law. They filed a lawsuit to stop the cap on the number of families allowed, but a Superior Court judge sided with Healey on November 1.

According to the State House News Service, the House hopes to add $250 million to the shelter system, but legislators want specific requirements on how the money would be spent. They want $50 million set aside to create an "overflow site" for families who end up on the waitlist.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.