The State’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) has recently placed 59 homeless migrant families in several hotels across Woburn using its authority under the State’s “Right to Shelter” law. The State has also indicated its intention to establish an emergency family shelter in Woburn for as many as 100 families beginning as early as next week.
The “Right to Shelter” law obligates the State to provide housing for families with children and pregnant women who are homeless, and the State’s policy is to place these families in hotels in cities and towns throughout the region without the need for local approval and in many instances without prior notice.
Federal inaction on immigration reform has created and worsened a nationwide immigration crisis at our borders, and the State’s “Right to Shelter” law (one of only three in the country) has made Massachusetts an attractive destination for migrants. This one/ two combination is unfairly impacting communities across the Commonwealth, where over 20,0000 migrants are currently being housed in hotels in over 90 communities, including Woburn. Unless there is change at the Federal level or in State law this crisis will continue to grow.
Woburn has always been a welcoming community and its increasingly diverse population has strengthened our City. The effort to assimilate over 100 new migrant families into our community and schools will be challenging but we are prepared to support the Governor and comply with State law during this time of crisis. As Woburn residents have always done, we will help the new members of our community adjust, feel welcomed, thrive, and become productive residents in our great City.
I am confident that by working collaboratively with School Superintendent Crowley and his staff, Police Chief Rufo, Fire Chief Kenton, City Departments, the School Committee, City Council, and local charitable organizations, we are prepared for and will meet the challenge.
The City will need State and Federal support to provide the additional City resources needed, to address impacts at the school level, and deliver appropriate levels of public safety services. We will be working with the Governor and her staff, our State delegation on Beacon Hill, and our Federal delegation in Washington to make sure these resources are delivered.