Updated Apr 30, 2024 - News

Massachusetts gets federal funds to help with migrant shelter costs

Illustration of the Massachusetts State House with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

The federal government will cover some of the cost of temporarily housing migrants in Massachusetts' emergency family shelters.

Why it matters: Massachusetts has spent more than $584 million on sheltering migrant families and other unhoused people in fiscal 2024 alone.

State of play: The Center for Medical and Medicaid Services approved the state's request to amend its Medicaid waiver, according to a letter Deputy Administrator Daniel Tsai sent state officials Friday.

  • The feds approved covering up to roughly half of the temporary shelter assistance costs, which could reach $647.5 million between 2024 and 2027.
  • The feds will pay up to $95 million in 2024 and smaller amounts in subsequent years for housing assistance for families and pregnant people eligible for Medicaid in state shelter, amounting to nearly half of the cost.
  • CMS also approved funding to temporarily house people who need to prepare for colonoscopies, help cover the cost of the ConnectorCare pilot and other health-related initiatives, per the letter.

Reality check: The federal funding alone won't cover the state's burgeoning shelter bill.

  • Massachusetts is short $224 million on shelter spending in fiscal 2024, and lawmakers haven't reached a deal on a bill that's supposed to cover the cost.
  • Meanwhile, the state estimates the shelter crisis will cost at least $915 million in fiscal 2025, about $590 million more than the state can afford.

Zoom in: The feds require that families meet with case managers and develop a plan to transition to permanent housing.

  • The approval enables state workers to connect people in shelter with health care and other supportive services, Tsai wrote in the letter.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to reflect that federal funds will cover nearly half the $647.5 million cost of temporary shelter assistance in Massachusetts from 2024 to 2027.

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