Massachusetts Democrats Would Rather Punish Our State’s Homeless Population Than Fix The Migrant Crisis

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Massachusetts has a migrant problem, in part, thanks to its well-intentioned Dukakis-era right-to-shelter law.

As Bay State lawmakers try to balance their desire to help people coming from less-than-ideal circumstances from poor countries and helping the citizens of the Commonwealth, however, the majority party is, unfortunately, taking the wrong approach.

As Democrats on Beacon Hill attempt to change this law, they must remember that they should not kick our state’s downtrodden citizens, including veterans, out into the cold.

Unfortunately, Democratic lawmakers on Beacon Hill refuse to implement a Republican proposal to limit emergency shelters to those who have lived at least six months in Massachusetts. That means people from all over the world, including illegal immigrants, can come here and immediately get taxpayer-funded shelter, which can include hotels and motels. This has also raised demand for hotels and motels, driving them to jack up rates and demand long-term renters pay weekly, rather than daily; and this has driven people to homelessness.

It’s proving to be a fiscal burden. The state budgeted about $325 million for its shelter system for fiscal year 2024 but is expected to spend more than $900 million on it this fiscal year and next fiscal year, according to MassLive. This unexpected cost also contributed to $375 million in current-fiscal-year 9C emergency budget cuts enacted by Governor Maura Healey in January which, among other things, decreased funding to more than 30 fire departments statewide.

It may also explain why Healey wants to allow municipalities to raise their meal taxes, hotel taxes, and motor vehicle excise taxes. Doing so would give them an easier avenue to raise revenue without depending on as much local aid from Beacon Hill.

So what do Democrats want to do about it? Governor Healey enacted a 7,500 family cap to the state’s emergency shelter system in October 2023, creating a waiting list for those who want emergency housing.

And the waitlist isn’t only for migrants. About half of the 729 families on the waitlist for emergency shelter last month were migrants — and migrants were about half of the 7,500 families in the shelter system, according to Boston 25. That means hundreds of families from Massachusetts were on waiting lists for emergency shelter because thousands of non-citizen families were using the system. 

That’s not to demonize people who have come to America in search of a better life. However, it is to say this law should prioritize taking care of its citizens, rather than pouring in money for non-citizens as the state cuts fire department budgets and considers tax increases to fund something that not even Vermont or California does. 

So what’s the next proposed move on Beacon Hill? Cutting the maximum stay in the emergency shelter system down to nine consecutive months with the possibility of three extra months if one is in a job training program. Mind you, the average shelter stay is around 13 to 14 months, according to State House News Service

Yes, the Massachusetts House of Representatives passed a bill (H.4284) earlier this week, 121-33, that would pour another $245 million into the state’s emergency shelter system that would also theoretically shorten shelter stays for our citizens. 

So the Democratic solution to this problem is to kick our homeless citizens out of the state’s emergency shelter system to cut costs and bodies in the system.

That doesn’t solve our state’s homeless problem. That does nothing to address high housing costs, opioid abuse, domestic violence, or any unique life circumstances that result in Bay Staters falling on hard times. 

All it does is punish our state’s downtrodden.

So while we shouldn’t blame the migrants themselves for this problem, not even the illegal immigrants, we can point to the bleeding heart ideology that is hurting the taxpayers, first responders, and our state’s homeless population, all while creating a humanitarian crisis that has foreign nationals sleeping at Logan Airport and in hospitals.

Republicans on Beacon Hill have the solution to this problem — limit emergency shelters to people who have lived in Massachusetts at least six months. It would send a message to would-be migrants that Massachusetts’s welcome mat is — primarily — for its own people.

The problem is:  the Democrats won’t do it, even though they should. 


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