Jan 20, 2023 - Politics

Boston seeks housing help for migrants

City leaders and nonprofits are renewing their push for state help to address an emergency shelter crisis linked to an influx of recently arrived migrants.

Driving the news: Boston housing chief Sheila Dillon met with senior members of Gov. Maura Healey's office to discuss the issue for the first time yesterday.

  • Dillon told reporters before the meeting she wants the state to approve $130 million in funding that former Gov. Charlie Baker proposed to tackle the housing shortfall.

Why it matters: The meeting could determine the Healey administration's next steps in dealing with the influx that has helped strain the emergency shelter system and led to delays in providing state-funded shelter.

What they’re saying: “They’re making this a priority,” Dillon told Axios about Healey administration officials. “I’m really, really hopeful that we can create a system that’s going to work better for the families in an upcoming year.”

Under Baker, city officials met daily with the state health and housing officials to deliver updates on newly arrived migrants and their needs.

Context: The influx started two years ago as families from Haiti, Venezuela and other countries came to the Boston area, but the uptick in migrant arrivals has overwhelmed local resources in recent months.

  • Most of the migrants have little to no family or friends in the area and have struggled to find housing and work opportunities.

Zoom in: City officials are working with nonprofits to temporarily house migrants awaiting state-funded shelter, Dillon told reporters yesterday.

The Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Advancement is holding an information session about the restrictions on Haitians, Venezuelans, Nicaraguans and Cubans seeking legal entry into the U.S., after receiving questions from locals about the Title 42 extension.

  • MOIA, which has two vacancies to fill, is also vying for funding in the city budget to add four new positions, said MOIA's executive director, Monique Tú Nguyen.

By the numbers: Dillon estimates local emergency rooms have seen more than a thousand migrant families in the past year.

  • The scale of the arrivals is unclear because the city and state don’t keep a tally.
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