Healy holds a meeting of state legislators about emergency shelters

Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll, pictured Wednesday, July 26, 2023, plans to lead a special briefing Thursday for lawmakers to learn more about the emergency shelter system. (Chris Van Buskirk / Boston Herald)

The Healey administration plans to hold a special briefing Thursday afternoon for House lawmakers to cover the state’s emergency assistance shelter system, which officials have used to house displaced families and newly arrived immigrants.

Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll plans to lead closed-door talks in a members-only lounge inside the House building from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., according to an email invitation from Haley’s deputy chief of staff to representatives.

The briefing is “for House members only” and a virtual option is available for representatives who cannot join in person, according to an invitation obtained and verified by the Herald.

“As with our first briefing, we will focus on recent updates and topics impacting EA across the state and regions. For any region or hotel-specific issues, we are happy to schedule separate offline conversations,” wrote Alicia Rebelo Pradas, Healey’s deputy chief of staff for legislative affairs. “.

In an email to House members, Whitney Ferguson, deputy chief of staff to House Speaker Ronald Mariano, said the meeting was scheduled “in response to requests from House leadership.”

“We encourage you to email questions and discussion topics to our office in advance so that we can ensure there is ample time for a productive briefing. The Speaker’s Office is also happy to help connect members to the correct administrative contact for highly technical questions that may take additional time outside of the briefing,” Ferguson wrote in an email obtained by the Herald.

The meeting is intended only for House lawmakers and is closed to the press and the public, according to Mariano’s office.

A spokesperson for Gov. Maura Healey said the administration is also holding briefings for congressional offices, state senators and municipal officials through the Massachusetts Municipal Association.

“Our administration frequently engages with local, state and federal officials regarding our emergency shelter system and we are grateful for their partnership as we confront this emergency,” spokeswoman Carissa Hand said in a statement.

The influx of migrants and stifling housing costs in Massachusetts have emerged as a major issue for the Haley administration, prompting the declaration of a state of emergency last month and the activation of up to 250 National Guard members last week to assist hotels housing homeless families. contracted service provider.

There were 6,228 displaced families, including migrants, in government emergency shelters as of Tuesday, according to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.

State representatives will likely start seeing those hotels and motels popping up in their areas along with more new arrivals. Healey said last month that more than 80 municipalities have hotels and motels that are housing people on a temporary and emergency basis.

Governor Maura Healey is not the only Democrat in the United States grappling with this issue nor the only one asking the Biden administration for help.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul criticized the White House for what she said was a lack of action on immigration reform. This comes as New York City and its mayor, Eric Adams, deal with thousands of arriving migrants, leading to the establishment of temporary camps in the city.

The Healey administration has turned to a series of hotels and motels across the state to temporarily house newly arrived immigrants and displaced families. Haley said the state spends nearly $45 million a month on services, including shelters, for displaced families.

Massachusetts is the only state in the country with what is known as a Right to Shelter law, which requires officials to provide immediate housing to homeless individuals. New York City has a similar law in place.

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