Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Massachusetts places historic limit on families seeking homeless shelter

By 37ci3 May1,2024

Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey signed a spending bill Tuesday that would repeal a 40-year-old “sanctuary right” for families and pregnant women and impose a length limit on the state’s emergency shelter system.

lfor examplelation — which includes $251 million for shelters starting this fiscal year — would impose a nine-month limit on stays in the system starting in June, but the law allows for two 90-day extensions after that initial period.

Healey told NBC News on Wednesday that the spending bill “allocates resources to balance the budget and maintain critical services and programs.”

“It also implements the Emergency Asylum Overstay policy, which is a responsible step to address our capacity and funding constraints as Congress continues to fail to act on immigration reform,” he said.

Healey added that his office is “finalizing details to ensure that families and providers are informed of the requirements and services available to help secure employment and stable housing” in the coming weeks.

The law also requires the Housing and Community Living Executive, which oversees the state’s emergency shelter system, to create a resettlement plan that includes case management for shelter leavers. Families will be able to apply for an extension of their stay based on things like being pregnant or having recently given birth; veteran status, employment status, or participation in workforce training; their immediate housing; or the need to prevent disruptions to children’s education in public schools.

Extensions will also be considered for those diagnosed with a disability or medical condition; single parents caring for disabled children or family members or single parents without adequate childcare; and those at risk of harm from domestic violence.

Massachusetts was the only state with a “shelter-in-law” law to provide housing for families and pregnant women indefinitely. But the state’s system has faced historic challenges with an influx of needy migrant families and a surge in homeless families facing one of the nation’s most unaffordable housing markets.

The shelter system has housed nearly 7,500 families since Healey’s appointment cap hour chour number In a statement in October, he said the asylum system had become “unsustainable”.

Healey pointed to a marked change in the number of families who have qualified for asylum in recent months. The number of families in public shelters rose from just under 4,000 in March 2023 to more than 7,500 in April of this year — with another 700 families on the shelter waiting list, according to the Housing and Community Services Executive.

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, just over half of the 7,500 families in the state’s emergency shelter system are recent arrivals to the state as refugees or migrants.

Aaron Mislewitz, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee who has been involved in negotiations with the state Senate on the legislation, told NBC News before it was passed that even if it were to potentially take effect, Massachusetts would still have one of the laws. the most generous asylum systems.

“It’s still one of the most generous programs, maybe the most generous in the country in terms of what it provides,” Mishlevit said. “We’ve been talking for months here in Massachusetts,” he said.

There are shelter managers objected to a stay of nine monthsPointing to data from the Housing and Community Service Executive, it found that the average length of stay for families in the system was nearly twice as long, at about 16 months.

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By 37ci3

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