Here’s What It Takes To House Migrants At Your Home In Massachusetts

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As migrants keep coming to Massachusetts, some people are housing migrants in their own homes.

State officials have said little publicly about what that entails, even though Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll asked people to house migrants in August 2023.

“Most importantly, if you have an extra room or suite in your home, please consider hosting a family. Housing and shelter is our most pressing need and become a sponsor family,” Driscoll said, according to Boston 25.

So what does the process of becoming a host family and housing migrants look like?

NewBostonPost obtained information about it earlier this week from an organization involved with placing migrants in private homes.

Those steps include:  reading a frequently asked questions page, filling out an application form, asking any additional questions to a volunteer from the Brazilian Worker Center, and filling out forms allowing a state Criminal Offender Record Information background check. Once all of that has been completed, one can receive a family.

The form asks for the would-be host’s name, address, a description of the room or rooms the host has available, “general notes,” a date when the host can start hosting a family, authorization for a state Criminal Offender Record Information background check (including the names, dates of birth, and last six digits of Social Security Numbers for all adults residing in the home), and the contact information of someone “who can provide a reference for your household.”

The host family frequently asked questions page is longer. It spans five pages and addresses various protocols regarding migrants.

It tells prospective host families that the state’s emergency shelter system is at full capacity and that the goal is to house people while they await shelter assistance. It also tells them they can host a migrant family for as little as one night if they wish.

To be eligible for emergency shelter in Massachusetts, foreigners must provide immigration documents. At least one member of the family must be a legal resident of the United States or at least known to federal immigration officials and not wanted for immediate deportation, according to the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. This means the rest of the family can be illegal immigrants, as NewBostonPost previously reported.

The Brazilian Worker Center tells hosts to show the migrants where everything is around the house and how various appliances work.

The organization informs hosts of what types of foods the migrants typically like to eat. It recommends rice, pasta, dried beans, eggs, chicken, bread, bullion cubes, various types of produce, juice, milk, crackers, peanut butter, and fresh fruit. 

“If you prepare a meal ahead of time for the family’s arrival, keep it simple and don’t use a lot of spice,” the organization says. “Roast chicken with rice or potatoes is a good option, as are simple soups or stews with bread, or a pan of mac and cheese or other pasta.”

Additionally, the Brazilian Worker Center recommends that people don’t have other visitors to their houses while hosting migrants and that they childproof their houses.

“Because young children will usually be staying with you, we recommend taking a few steps to child-proof your home:  secure cabinets, cover electrical outlets, and ensure fragile items or harmful substances are out of reach,” the Brazilian Worker Center says. “Please do not feel obligated or compelled to alter your daily routine, as parental responsibility for their child’s protection lies with them.”

The organization includes protocol for what to do if the hosting situation is not going well. 

“Please contact the Family Welcome Center by email at [email protected] and explain the difficulty,” the organization’s web site states. “Please understand that every day is very hectic at the Center, and we have to prioritize the kinds of questions that come in, so it may take some time for someone to respond to your question. If there is a true medical emergency, please call 911. Otherwise, please just continue to make your family comfortable until your situation can be resolved or it resolves on its own.”

“If the current situation is not proving to be suitable, please communicate your concerns with the Family Welcome Center. You have the option to retract your offer as a host family at any point,” it adds. “Together, we can explore potential solutions or make necessary adjustments to ensure a more comfortable arrangement for both you and the host family.”

The Brazilian Worker Center also informs host families that they receive no compensation for their efforts.

“No, not for this program,” the organization says. “Hosts are offering their homes and food as a gift, and are encouraged to spend only what they can comfortably give.”

It’s unclear how many migrants are currently being housed in private residences in Massachusetts.

The Brazilian Worker Center and the press office for Governor Maura Healey could not be reached for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.


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