More Massachusetts communities are facing a strain as increasing numbers of immigrant families seek housing in hotels. This escalating demand is putting additional pressure on a system that is already at its breaking point. Every day, approximately 20 to 30 families are requesting emergency shelter, and these numbers show no sign of slowing down. In locations such as Marlboro, hotels have become temporary homes for numerous homeless families, creating a packed and bustling environment. The situation is particularly challenging, as these families rely on food delivery services for their meals. While some residents in these hotels are from Massachusetts, the majority are immigrants, with many hailing from Haiti. The crisis has been building for months, with dozens of asylum-seeking families being placed in hotels across various communities. The demand is sky-high, as evidenced by the current count of close to 400 individuals in one hotel alone. The state has had to respond with urgency, utilizing 43 hotels in 38 communities for emergency housing—a sharp increase from their previous capacity. Massachusetts stands as the sole “right to shelter” state in the country, guaranteeing emergency housing for homeless families. However, the reality is not always pretty, with stories emerging of cramped living conditions, such as a Haitian immigrant sharing one bed with his pregnant wife, toddler, and mother. Local officials, like Barbara Mayer Arthur Vagend, express concerns regarding the impact on schoolchildren, as overcrowding leaves no space in already stretched schools. While local efforts are being made, the issue ultimately falls within a federal purview and necessitates a comprehensive solution.


The current situation in Massachusetts is putting an increased strain on communities as more families seek emergency shelter. The number of families requesting assistance continues to climb, and the need for housing is becoming a pressing issue. This article will provide an overview of the growing number of families seeking shelter, the extended stay in hotels as a temporary solution, the composition of immigrant families in need of housing, and the efforts of the state to address the crisis. It will also discuss the challenges faced by these families and the need for collaborative and comprehensive solutions.

Families Seeking Shelter

The number of families seeking emergency shelter in Massachusetts has been steadily increasing. Every day, at least 20 to 30 families ask for assistance. These families are facing various challenges, such as homelessness, lack of affordable housing, and unstable living situations. The demand for emergency shelter has been intensifying, making it crucial to address this issue promptly.

Housing in Hotels

As a temporary solution, many families are being housed in hotels for extended periods. This approach aims to provide immediate relief and stability to families in need. However, the situation in hotels, such as Marlboro, exemplifies the challenges faced by families in temporary housing. These hotels are overcrowded, with families living in cramped spaces for weeks. While some residents are from Massachusetts, a significant proportion consists of immigrants, with a notable number coming from Haiti.

Composition of Immigrant Families

The families seeking shelter in Massachusetts comprise a mix of residents and immigrants. Many Haitian immigrants have settled in the state, and they make up a considerable portion of those needing emergency housing. These families are in search of safety and stability, often fleeing adverse conditions in their home country. It is important to recognize the unique needs and experiences of immigrant families in order to provide effective and appropriate support.

Crisis Building for Months

The crisis of families seeking emergency shelter has been growing for several months. Asylum-seeking families, in particular, have been placed in hotels as a temporary solution. Examples can be found in various towns across the state, where hotels are accommodating a significant number of migrants. This growing trend has placed a burden on local communities and highlights the urgent need for a comprehensive response.

State’s Emergency Housing Capacity

The state of Massachusetts has been utilizing hotels as emergency housing for families in need. Currently, there are 43 hotels being used for this purpose, spread across 38 communities. These hotels are housing approximately 1800 families, highlighting the scale of the problem. Furthermore, since late 2022, the state has expanded its capacity for hotel and permanent emergency housing by 40 percent. These efforts are an acknowledgment of the growing demand and a step towards addressing the crisis.

Expansion of Hotel and Permanent Emergency Housing

In response to the escalating need for emergency housing, the state of Massachusetts has made significant efforts to increase its housing capacity. The increase in the number of hotels utilized for this purpose, as well as the expansion of permanent emergency housing options, aims to provide more accommodations for families in need. These expansions are crucial in ensuring that families have access to safe and stable living conditions.

Right to Shelter State

Massachusetts stands out as the only right to shelter state in the country. This designation guarantees emergency housing to homeless families, emphasizing the state’s commitment to assisting those in need. While it is a positive development in terms of policy, the reality of emergency housing is not always ideal. There are instances where families are facing overcrowded living conditions and other challenges, highlighting the need for continued improvement and support.

Challenges and Concerns

The personal stories of families facing overcrowded conditions in emergency housing underscore the challenges they encounter. Families often have to share beds and living spaces, leading to discomfort and limited privacy. Additionally, the shortage of space in schools poses difficulties in accommodating school-age children. These challenges highlight the need for a multidimensional approach to address the housing crisis and its broader impact on communities.


The growing number of families seeking emergency shelter in Massachusetts is placing significant strain on communities. The increase in demand for housing, particularly in hotels, requires immediate attention and action. The state’s efforts to expand housing capacity are commendable, but more needs to be done to ensure families have access to safe and stable accommodations. Collaborative and comprehensive solutions that address the unique needs of immigrant families and mitigate the challenges faced by children in school are essential. Massachusetts must continue working towards a more sustainable and equitable system to provide emergency housing to vulnerable families in need.