Cape Cod State Rep Says Massachusetts Is Being Taken Advantage Of Due To Right-To-Shelter Law

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Massachusetts is being taken advantage of due to the lack of a residency requirement on the state’s right-to-shelter law, a state legislator from Cape Cod recently said.

State Representative Steve Xiarhos (R-Barnstable), who supports amending the right-to-shelter law in Massachusetts to include a residency requirement, said the law was never meant for the Bay State to house migrants from all over the world.

“This is simply one of those issues where there should not be a compromise,” Xiarhos wrote in a Facebook post on Saturday, May 4. “I’m proud to be from Cape Cod. One of the qualities I most love about our corner of the state is that people are so kind and generous. Whenever there is a need, whenever there is an issue of concern, we’re always among the first to step forward and help out. But we’re also people of principle, and people who believe in justice. And we know when we’re being taken advantage of.”

“That’s what’s happening right now with the Right to Shelter Law,” he added. “The underpinnings of this law are sound. We all know there are certain cases, certain circumstances where people need emergency assistance. And when that happens, it’s right for the state to have the resources to support people.”

Xiarhos reiterated that he has no problem with the state providing shelter for residents who need help, but that the law isn’t meant to solve all of the world’s problems.

“But let’s be honest,” he wrote. “The Right to Shelter Law never was intended to house migrants from around the world at Logan Airport. It was never intended to house migrant families in our armories, or in college dorm rooms, or hotels and motels on Cape Cod, or at Joint Base Cape Cod, or at any of the other places it’s being used for right now. This law was intended for Massachusetts residents, for United States Citizens, not for people the world over and certainly not for people who entered into this country through a porous border that never should have been left wide open.”

Then-Governor Michael Dukakis signed the right-to-shelter measure into law in 1983.

As Xiarhos noted, some illegal immigrants are eligible to use the state’s emergency shelter system. Only one person in a family applying for emergency shelter needs to at least not be wanted for immediate deportation, as NewBostonPost previously reported. That means it could be a legal resident, or someone awaiting an immigration hearing that may result in a removal from the country.

Xiarhos added that by not putting a residency requirement on the state’s right-to-shelter law, Massachusetts is disrespecting its taxpayers.

“It’s time to put an end to these benefits being abused and spent for a purpose they never were intended for,” Xiarhos added. “Our state is projecting up to a billion dollars of expenses for migrant housing this year alone. That’s unacceptable and it’s offensive to the Massachusetts taxpayers whose generosity is being used to spend money inappropriately.”

Since allocating an initial $325 million to fund the emergency shelter system in fiscal year 2024 last year, the state twice has passed supplemental shelter spending because of the unprecedented demand for the system, primarily driven by migrants who are eligible to use the state’s right-to-shelter law due to its lack of a residency requirement. So far, the state has allocated $1.001 billion for the system in the past year, as NewBostonPost reported last week. 


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