The recent increase in migrant families arriving in Massachusetts has had a significant impact on the number of homeless families seeking shelter in hotels throughout the region. This surge has led to a growing concern as more and more families find themselves without proper accommodation. One such family is Felix Lewis, his wife, and their one-year-old son, who fled violence and economic collapse in Haiti. After living in Brazil for a period of time, they embarked on a journey in February by bus and on foot, including walking through the jungle between Colombia and Panama. Eventually, they crossed the border into California, where they received assistance to fly to Massachusetts. Drawn by the promise of ample space and support from the Boston community, Felix and his family arrived in July and have since been housed in a hotel just outside of Boston along with over 300 other migrants. As the number of homeless families continues to rise, the governor of Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency, calling on the federal government to expedite work authorizations for migrants in need. The issue highlights the pressing need for both immigration reform and a more streamlined process for providing assistance to those seeking refuge in the United States.

Migrants Drive Surge in Homeless Families Staying in Massachusetts Hotels

Background

In recent years, Massachusetts has seen a significant increase in the number of migrant families coming to the state. These families, facing violence and economic collapse in their home countries, are seeking refuge and a better life for themselves and their children. However, this influx of migrants has also led to a surge in the number of homeless families being sheltered in hotels across the region. The issue of housing for these families has become a pressing concern, with many cities and towns struggling to accommodate the growing population.

Increase in Migrant Families Coming to Massachusetts

The increase in migrant families coming to Massachusetts is driven by a variety of factors. Many of these families are escaping violence and instability in their home countries, such as Haiti. They have been living in temporary shelters or refugee camps in other countries, such as Brazil, before setting out on their journey to the United States. Some have traveled for months, crossing through multiple countries and facing arduous conditions along the way.

Sheltering Homeless Families in Hotels

Due to the lack of available permanent housing, many homeless families, including migrants, are being sheltered in hotels across Massachusetts. Nonprofit organizations and government agencies are working together to provide temporary housing for these families until more permanent solutions can be found. However, the increasing number of families in need has put a strain on the resources available, leading to overcrowding in many hotel shelters.

Personal Story of Felix Lewis and His Family

One example of a migrant family seeking shelter in Massachusetts is the story of Felix Lewis, his wife, and their one-year-old son. They left Haiti to escape violence and economic collapse, initially residing in Brazil. In February, they embarked on a challenging journey, traveling by bus and on foot through jungles between Colombia and Panama. Finally, they crossed the border into California. With no place to stay in Florida, they were aided by a shelter that arranged for their family to fly to Massachusetts. They heard about the available resources and support in Boston, which led them to make the decision to move to the city.

Reasons for Moving to Boston

Migrant families, like Felix Lewis and his family, choose to move to Boston for several reasons. The city offers a wealth of support services, including organizations dedicated to housing migrants. Boston also has a larger population compared to other cities in Massachusetts, which means there are more resources available to help families in need. Additionally, Boston is known for its diverse community and welcoming atmosphere, making it an attractive destination for migrants seeking a fresh start.

The Role of the Collaborative in Housing Migrants

In July, the Lewis family found temporary housing through a Chelsea nonprofit called The Collaborative. This organization, along with others, is working to address the housing crisis by providing accommodation for more than 300 migrants in a hotel just outside of Boston. The Collaborative, like many similar nonprofits, aims to ensure that those in need receive the assistance they require as human beings. These organizations play a crucial role in helping migrants find stable housing and transition into their new lives in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts’ Approach to Counting Migrant Families

Massachusetts does not count migrant families separately from others seeking shelter. However, state officials do acknowledge that the surge in homeless families is driven by migrants who have recently arrived in the state. In January, there were 388 families living in Massachusetts hotel shelters, but as of Wednesday, that number has risen to more than 1,400. The state recognizes the urgent need for a comprehensive response to address the housing crisis affecting both migrants and long-term residents.

Rise in Homeless Families Staying in Massachusetts Hotel Shelters

The rise in homeless families staying in Massachusetts hotel shelters has had a significant impact on local communities. For example, the city of Marlborough has seen dozens of migrant families staying in a Holiday Inn. The influx of families has put pressure on the public school system, with approximately 30 new children enrolling in schools. The mayor of Marlborough anticipates that this number will triple in the near future, highlighting the strain on resources and the urgent need for additional support.

Impact on Marlborough and Its Public School System

The increased number of migrant families staying in hotels in Marlborough has presented significant challenges for the city and its public school system. With limited space available, the city is struggling to accommodate the growing population of students. Declaring a state of emergency, the mayor emphasized the need for immediate action to address the housing crisis and provide adequate resources for both residents and migrant families. The situation in Marlborough is reflective of similar challenges faced by other communities across the state.

State of Emergency Declared in Massachusetts

Recognizing the severity of the housing crisis, Governor Maura Healey declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts. This declaration highlights the urgent need for increased support and resources to address the growing number of homeless families, including migrants. It also serves as a call to action for the federal government to expedite work authorizations for migrants, many of whom are eager to work but lack the necessary permits. The state is actively seeking assistance and collaboration to find long-term solutions and ensure the well-being of all families in need.

Governor’s Call for Expedited Work Authorizations for Migrants

Governor Maura Healey’s call for expedited work authorizations for migrants underscores the need for a comprehensive and efficient immigration process. Many migrants, like Felix Lewis, have ambitions to work and contribute to their new communities but face significant barriers due to legal processes and delays. By expediting work authorizations, the state aims to provide migrants with the opportunity to support themselves and their families while they wait for their immigration status hearings. This approach recognizes the importance of immigration while also emphasizing the need for a well-defined and streamlined process.

Conclusion

The surge in homeless families staying in Massachusetts hotels, driven in part by a rise in migrant families coming to the state, highlights the critical need for comprehensive solutions and increased support. Organizations like The Collaborative are working tirelessly to provide temporary housing for these families, but the strain on resources is evident. Massachusetts has declared a state of emergency and called for expedited work authorizations for migrants, acknowledging the urgency of the situation. It is crucial to address the housing crisis, ensure the well-being of all families in need, and develop a robust and efficient immigration process that can accommodate those seeking refuge and a better life in the United States.