Latest Right-To-Shelter Reform In Massachusetts Legislature Doesn’t Fix The Problem

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The Massachusetts legislature and Governor Maura Healey put a new restriction on the state’s emergency shelter system, but it won’t fix the problem.

While pouring another $426 million into the system, on Thursday state legislators and the governor also imposed a nine-month limit on how long families can stay in the emergency shelter system; people can also apply for up to two 90-day extensions if they file a hardship waiver — making the maximum stay in the shelter system 15 months.

The current problem with the state’s right-to-shelter law is that people are coming here from other countries because they know Massachusetts will put them up in long-term stays on the taxpayers’ dime and provide them with an assortment of government handouts. Reducing the time people can stay in the system to, at most, 15 months, doesn’t change that reality.

The state needs a six-month residency requirement on its right-to-shelter law and needs to ban all illegal immigrants from using the shelter system. That’s the only way to ensure people don’t keep coming here looking for free stuff the state can’t afford. The emergency shelter system, now costing the state $75 million per month, has already contributed to our state’s financial problems; Governor Maura Healey enacted $375 million in emergency budget cuts earlier this year, including cuts to more than 30 fire departments statewide, in response to the system’s exorbitant costs. The state is expected to spend more than $900 million on it this fiscal year — far more than the $325 million state legislators initially appropriated.

Between this maximum stay reform and the 7,500-family cap that Governor Healey put on the shelter system last fall, the Democratic solution to this problem seems to be to punish the downtrodden longtime residents of this state — rather than putting the people of the Commonwealth first.

Migrants comprise about half of those in the emergency shelter system — a system that has a waitlist that includes Massachusetts families. So if our state had a residency requirement, people wouldn’t come here in droves looking for these handouts, there would be more than enough room in the shelter system for all of the Massachusetts families that need a place to stay, and the state would save hundreds of millions of dollars.

Reducing the maximum stay doesn’t reduce costs for the state if the demand remains high. If there are 7,500 families in the shelter and the state spends $10,000 per month per family, you’re still paying $75 million per month to fund it, even if it’s different families from Haiti and other countries cycling through. The geopolitical situation in Haiti is still a mess, so it’s not like emigration from the country will end anytime soon. 

What the state needs to do is reduce the demand for its emergency shelter system — and the easiest way to do that is to limit the eligibility to it for Americans. If liberals want to house migrants in their homes, they are free to do so. However, the taxpayers shouldn’t be responsible for doing so — especially when the state already faces financial constraints thanks to its lack of fiscal responsibility. 


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