Boston, Massachusetts – The Melnea Cass Recreational Complex in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood has been transformed into an emergency shelter for migrant families. The center is now accommodating families who have been sleeping at Logan International Airport, as the state seeks to address the ongoing crisis of housing for those in need. The move has sparked concerns from some members of the community about the loss of local programs provided by the center, but officials maintain that it is a necessary step to provide safety and security for women and children.
Governor Maura Healey emphasized the obligation to make use of all available spaces in the state to provide shelter for those in need, highlighting the dire situation faced by families at the airport. Despite the opening of the shelter, a group of protestors rallied outside, expressing their concerns with signs calling for prioritizing assistance to local children and questioning the choice of location for the emergency shelter.
The impact on local families is also being felt, with residents highlighting the importance of after-school activities for working parents and the need for equity in the community. City Councilor Tania Fernandes echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that the community is dealing with multiple challenges and requires support in various areas.
Efforts are underway to relocate recreation programs to ensure that the center can reopen as a recreational facility with a pool by June. The shelter has the capacity to accommodate up to 400 people or about 100 families, with priority given to those eligible for the state’s Emergency Assistance shelter system. However, the shelter is set to cease operations by May 31, making way for the reopening of the recreational facilities.
The crisis of housing overflow is not isolated to Roxbury, as the state has opened similar sites in other locations, including Cambridge, Quincy, and Revere, and the United Way is operating safety-net sites in greater Boston and central Massachusetts. Massachusetts operates under a right-to-shelter law, but limitations on the number of families the state can house have led to a waiting list of 656 families, highlighting the challenges faced in addressing the housing crisis. The ongoing situation is expected to have significant financial implications, with taxpayers estimated to bear a $1 billion cost this year alone.
As the state and local communities grapple with the complexity of the housing crisis, Massachusetts congressman Richard Neal emphasized the far-reaching impact of the inability to solve this problem. The urgency of addressing the housing needs of families, particularly women and children, remains a pressing issue as officials work to navigate the challenges of providing adequate shelter for those in need.