Norfolk State Rep and MassGOP Chairman Oppose Converting Former Norfolk Prison Into Migrant Shelter

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A Massachusetts town with about 11,600 residents will soon get 450 more residents, thanks to Governor Maura Healey’s administration — and the town’s state representative is not happy about it.

The Healey administration plans to use the former Bay State Correctional Center to house people in the state’s emergency shelter system. About about half the people in the shelter system, are migrants — including some illegal immigrants. The facility is a former medium-security prison that closed in 2015.

State Representative Marcus Vaughn (R-Wrentham) expressed opposition to the move. Vaughn represents the Ninth Norfolk District, which includes the town of Norfolk. 

Vaughn said the move presents a financial burden to the town and that the state shouldn’t incentivize migrants to come to Massachusetts with government handouts. 

“The Norfolk community is in dismay over the decision to house these migrants in our small town,” Vaughn said in a press release from the Massachusetts Republican Party. “Our schools are already financially strained, and this move will disproportionately impact our children, It’s not right to force our children to sacrifice their education for a problem they played no part in creating. Had the Democratic supermajority on Beacon Hill heeded the amendments proposed by my colleagues and me, we wouldn’t be incentivizing migrants to enter the Commonwealth, and Norfolk’s children wouldn’t be bearing this burden.” 

Mass Republican Party chairman Amy Carnevale expressed a similar sentiment. She said that it’s not fair to put that many people in such a small community.

“What we’re witnessing is the Healey-Driscoll Administration effectively steamrolling communities, imposing additional burdens without community consent or state-level support,” Carnevale said in the written statement. “Norfolk, being a small town, simply cannot accommodate 450 migrants.”

Carnevale has said in the past that she thinks that part of why Governor Healey has proposed local option tax increases is to help pay for migrant crisis, as she told NewBostonPost earlier this year. Healey’s proposal would let towns and cities increase their meals, motor vehicle excise, and hotel taxes.

Though the state initially allocated $325 million to fund its emergency shelter system in fiscal year 2024 last year, it has twice passed supplemental shelter spending because of the unprecedented demand for the system. That demand primarily comes from migrants eligible to use the state’s right-to-shelter law due to its lack of a residency requirement. Thus far, the state has allocated $1.001 billion for the system in the past year, as NewBostonPost reported.

Currently, demand for spots in the state’s emergency shelter system outpaces the supply because Governor Healey put a 7,500-family cap on the system last fall.

Most of the migrant families who come to Massachusetts to use its shelter system are from Haiti. Migrants and those involved with the emergency shelter system have noted that people come to Massachusetts specifically to use its emergency shelter system that provides long-term stays at hotels and motels at the expense of taxpayers, as NewBostonPost previously reported.

Healey’s office could not be reached for comment on Wednesday or Thursday.


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