Who is a member?
Our members are the local governments of Massachusetts and their elected and appointed leadership.
With a surge of emergency shelter needs that shows no signs of abating, and temporary placements in hotels and other settings in roughly 80 communities across the state, the MMA and the administration will begin conducting biweekly briefings with chief municipal officials later this month to provide the latest information and take questions.
The number of families in the state’s emergency shelter system has grown by 60%, to 6,300, since Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll took office in January. The governor declared a state of emergency on Aug. 8 and activated up to 250 National Guard personnel in early September to assist with logistics, particularly at shelters that lack service providers. The administration has also asked the federal government for help, particularly with funding and expediting work authorizations so those in shelters can move into the workforce.
The state’s Emergency Assistance shelter program is for families with children or pregnant women who are experiencing homelessness, including newly arrived families and local families. The administration said many of the migrant families are here legally and are eager to find jobs.
Driscoll and a host of administration officials have held two webinar briefings for chief municipal officials thus far, on July 19 and Sept. 12. Those briefings and the biweekly series due to begin on Sept. 27 are facilitated by the MMA.
Driscoll and Ed Augustus, the secretary of Housing and Livable Communities, also updated local officials during a meeting of the Local Government Advisory Commission on Sept. 12 at the State House.
“All of our typical emergency shelter sites were filled a month ago,” Driscoll said. “That means we’re filling in trying to find locations.”
The “evolving crisis” is now forcing the state to place families in communities that don’t have the needed service providers, she said. The fact that the state was already facing a shortage of affordable housing makes matters worse.
Driscoll thanked local officials for their partnership, noting the “heroic efforts of community members” to provide services and meals to those in emergency shelter placements.
At the LGAC meeting, several local leaders talked about the support they need as they work to absorb the burden in their communities, particularly funding for unanticipated education and social service needs and timely communication.
Westborough Town Manager Kristi Williams said her town has more than 80 families housed in hotels, with more expected to arrive in October. The town has enrolled 40 new students so far, with 25 more coming soon. She said the migrant children have language needs that her school district isn’t currently able to meet.
The MMA is asking chief municipal officials — primarily mayors and town managers — if they’d like to share their cell phone numbers, and the number for one other appointed staff person, with the administration in order to enable faster communication when those needing shelter are being placed in hotels in a particular municipality. The MMA sent an email to collect this information, which can be shared through a Google form.