Migrants Coming To Massachusetts For Free Stuff and Free Shelter, Program Director Says

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2024/04/18/migrants-coming-to-massachusetts-for-free-stuff-and-free-shelter-program-director-says/

When migrants come to Massachusetts, government handouts are a factor, a woman involved with the state’s emergency shelter system recently admitted.

Patricia Zio, the program director of the Bay State Community Services welcome center in Quincy at Eastern Nazarene College, said that migrants come to Massachusetts specifically because they see on social media that they will get free stuff from the government.

“It kind of paints it as, ‘Come to Boston, and you’ll get a house and a job and all of this for free. So just come up to Boston,’ ” Zio told State House News Service this week. “And that hasn’t changed. I think a lot of people come here, and they’re struggling because they’re hearing about this opportunity that’s beyond their wildest dreams.”

Junior Alexandre, who came to America from French Guiana, reportedly came to Massachusetts because of its programs for migrants.

“We were in search of a better life, and since we know no one in America, Boston is known as a place who helps immigrants,” the man told State House News Service. “We came here knowing we could get help, and that way we could help our family and move on.”

It’s a sentiment a man from Africa, Mamadou Diallo, also recently expressed in a Boston Globe story.

“The 28-year-old, originally from the West African country of Guinea, had heard the city had resources to help migrants like himself get on their feet,” the newspaper reported, explaining the migrant’s decision to come to Boston.

“I came here for a better future, better opportunities,” the man told the paper.

The free housing program Zio mentioned stems from the state’s right-to-shelter statute, which guarantees emergency assistance shelter at state government expense for families and pregnant women.

The law’s lack of a residency requirement has drawn attention during the past several months, as migrants, primarily from Haiti, have come to Massachusetts and received state-funded shelter, including hotel rooms. Only one member of the family has to be in the country legally, meaning illegal immigrants can access this state-funded shelter.

The state’s emergency shelter system now costs $75 million per month to operate ($10,000 per month per family); it is projected to cost more than $900 million to operate during the current fiscal year ending June 30, far more than the $325 million lawmakers initially budgeted for it.

Massachusetts House Speaker Ron Mariano (D-Quincy) has hinted that the state may enact budget cuts to pay for its emergency shelter system in fiscal year 2026, which begins July 1, 2025. State legislators will begin putting together that budget later this year.


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