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Dozens move into Lowell emergency shelter as state lawmakers warn money is running out

Massachusetts may be running out of money for emergency shelter program
Massachusetts may be running out of money for emergency shelter program 02:42

LOWELL - Dozens of families moved into an emergency shelter Tuesday at the Lowell Inn and Conference Center that was set up earlier this year to help handle the influx of migrants moving into Massachusetts. 

"It's not impacting our budget yet," said Lowell City Manager Thomas Golden. But he said more could tip the balance if it eventually leads to more students in Lowell schools.

It's a balance he said the city has been able to handle so far. "I have to really credit our health department as well as police and fire that are really the boots on the ground that have made this happen," he said. 

Money expected to run out this month

Massachusetts legislators say the money is expected to run out this month. They're currently working on a supplemental budget to extend funding and are grappling with how many hundreds of millions the state can afford to spend on housing immigrants going forward. 

State data shows as of last week, there were 7499 families living in emergency shelters. That's just one below the threshold Governor Maura Healey said the state could handle last fall. Her pleas for federal funding continue. 

"In the meantime, we're figuring ways to cover this in the interim as the legislature works through this but bottom line. The federal government and Congress need to get its act together and act," Healey said. 

According to the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Livable Communities, 68 families were transferred to the Lowell shelter from Bedford on Tuesday as part of an effort to consolidate space and reduce overhead costs. There are currently 714 families on the state's waiting list for emergency shelter.   

Some state lawmakers have discussed the possibility of dipping into savings. "There's no plan to do that right now," said Healey.   

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