Mayor Wu: Boston will open temporary overflow shelter near Mass. and Cass
With the pace of new arrivals showing no signs of slowing, Boston will open a temporary shelter site near the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, city Mayor Michelle Wu has said.
“We’re opening up the Engagement Center just for overnight overflow for up to 30 individuals who need it to accommodate the growing need that we are experiencing. This will be a temporary measure,” Wu said Monday during an unrelated event as the city prepared for Tuesday’s expected heavy snowfall, according to the Boston Globe.
According to the Globe, the site, on Atkinson Street is a “daytime space for individuals navigating homelessness and substance use” near Mass. and Cass., which has been long plagued by the twin problems of substance abuse and homelessness.
Wu said Monday that the center would be in use for about a month, the newspaper reported.
With “more new families are arriving with the migrant crisis to cities everywhere … much of the attention has been on families with children who are a part of the state’s shelter system and the work that we’ve been doing to support that,” Wu said, according to the Globe.
The announcement comes about two weeks after state and city officials announced that the Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood would be pressed into service as an emergency shelter site until June.
Last week, news also emerged that an office building in Boston’s luxe Seaport neighborhood could be the next stop for migrants in search of housing as the commonwealth continues to deal with a crush of new arrivals and a shortage of places to put them.
The Healey administration reportedly is considering the spot on Farnsworth Street, in the Fort Point section of Seaport, according to published reports. The location is not far from the Boston Children’s Museum, the Boston Herald reported.
Costs for the state’s shelter system are expected to sail past $900 million a year for the next two years amid a time of flagging tax collections.
The fiscal challenge of meeting that growing need was a central theme of a legislative hearing last week, where Gov. Maura Healey and her top aides were peppered with questions over the administration’s $58 billion spending plan for the new fiscal year that starts July 1.
Speaking to WCVB-TV’s “On the Record” program on Sunday, freshman state Sen. Peter Durant, R-Hampshire/Worcester, repeated GOP calls to amend the state’s Right to Shelter Law to include a residency requirement to qualify for services.
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Durant told host Sharman Sacchetti that the law, as it’s currently written, is attracting more migrants to Massachusetts than other states, State House News Service reported.
“You cross the border in Texas or New Mexico, wherever you happen to be, you’re greeted by a bunch of NGO’s — nongovernmental organizations — that say, ‘Where do you want to go? You can pick a state, say, South Dakota, that doesn’t have any benefits,” Durant said. “Or we can send you to Massachusetts where you get free housing, free health care, free food, free education, cash benefits. Where would you like to go?’”
Reminded that the Healey administration capped the system at 7,500 families last fall, Durant parried.
“Well, I mean, she said that we’re going to have no more than 7,500 families, yet we just filled up the Melnea Cass arena, and now we’re looking at space in Fort Point,” he said. “So I don’t think it’s — I don’t think we can trust the governor in some of the things she’s saying,” Durant said, according to State House News Service.