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Boston's Hynes Convention Center could serve as overflow site for waitlisted Massachusetts migrants

Lawmakers consider overflow site for waitlisted migrant families
Lawmakers consider overflow site for waitlisted migrant families 02:51

BOSTON - With the Massachusetts emergency shelter system about to hit its limit, lawmakers are considering establishing one or more "overflow" sites for waitlisted migrant families.

House Speaker Ron Mariano said Wednesday that one location being looked at is the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

"Where are these people going to go? Where do they spend the night when they come in here on a Friday night at seven o'clock? Are they going to go directly to the Common and bed down for the night?" he said. "This is an attempt to make sure that we have a site that we can count on for these folks who are over the limit."

The number of families in emergency shelters in the state stands at 7,488. That's just 12 short of the limit that was expected to be hit Wednesday or Thursday. 

""If we have Hynes, will that do it? Or do we need multiple locations all across the state?" said Mariano. 

Gov. Maura Healey announced in October that the state does not have the resources to serve more than 7,500 families. Healey's shelter cap has been challenged in court, but a judge sided with the governor earlier this month. 

The House is looking to fulfill Healey's request of a $250 million boost to the shelter system. Fifty million would go toward the proposed overflow shelter site, while $75 million would be designated for school district costs. 

"We're here today spending $250 million and I have heard from voters overwhelmingly, number one, that this is a major issue. Number two, we're still not funding our roads, our bridges and our schools," said state Rep. Nick Boldyga (R-Third Hampden District) who said he will vote against the bill.

At La Colaborativa in Chelsea, immigration advocates said they're worried about how potential overflow sites can provide wraparound services like transportation and medical care. 

"With the current sites that we're seeing, it's not moving maybe as fast as it should be," said Donna Mitria. "If this is our current situation, how are we going to take on even more?"

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