Civil rights group takes Gov. Healey’s cap on right-to-shelter law to court for emergency hearing

BOSTON — An emergency hearing is scheduled for Tuesday at Suffolk Superior Court over Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey’s cap on the state’s right-to-shelter law as a civil rights group claims there needs to be public input or legislative action before families can be turned away from shelters.

Healey announced that on Nov. 1, she wants to start capping the number of families in shelters across the state. But Lawyers for Civil Rights claims this undermines the state’s right-to-shelter law, which Massachusetts is the only state in the country to enact.

As it stands right now, there are 7,332 families in emergency shelters across the state. A majority of them are in hotels and motels, and 77 families are in temporary emergency shelters.

Healey’s office says once the state hits capacity at 7,500 families, a waiting list will be created. She would also give out housing vouchers to 1,200 families who have been in housing for more than 18 months as a way to open up space for new families coming in.

But Lawyers for Civil Rights has filed a lawsuit on behalf of three families on the brink of homelessness to stop the state from undermining its right-to-shelter law.

The civil rights group claims the changes to law are being rushed into place without any action from the legislature. They want a judge to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the state from instituting the cap.

But besides running out of space, Healey’s office says the state is also running out of money.

According to The Boston Globe, Healey has asked for $250 million more of state money. Her office estimates with the current rate of migrant families coming in, the state would run out of its allocated funds by mid-January.

In August, Healey declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts due to the influx of migrant families arriving in the Bay State. The governor has called on the federal government to act to address the issue in Massachusetts.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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