Gov. Healey activates National Guard to assist at emergency shelters amid influx of migrants

BOSTON — Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey has activated up to 250 members of the National Guard to assist at emergency shelter hotels amid the Bay’s State influx of migrants, her administration announced Thursday.

The National Guardsmen will provide basic services at locations that do not have a contracted service provider, Healey said. Earlier this month, Healey declared a state of emergency due to the “rapidly rising numbers of migrant families” arriving in the Bay State in need of shelter and services.

“Massachusetts is in a state of emergency, and we need all hands-on deck to meet this moment and ensure families have access to safe shelter and basic services,” said Governor Healey. “We’re grateful to the brave men and women of the National Guard for stepping up to help us ensure that every family in emergency shelter has their needs met, including access to food, transportation, medical care, and education. While we work to implement a more permanent staffing solution, the National Guard will provide an efficient and effective means of delivering these services and keeping everybody safe.”

Healey’s Office says service providers have been stretched thin as more shelter sites have been added to meet an increasing demand.

National Guard members will be assigned to specific hotel shelter sites beginning next week, where they will help locations manage the distribution of food, basic needs, transportation, and medical care. The National Guardsmen will also assist local school districts with enrolling children in a school that meets their educational needs.

Healey also announced that Regional Rapid Response Teams will be formed to help oversee shelter sites and communicate any issues to her administration. The teams will be made up of state employees and “prepare sites for opening, communicate site-specifics to inform placements, arrange connection to public benefits, and support municipal and legislative partners.”

The National Guard will be tasked with escalating any issues to the Regional Rapid Response Teams.

“We are committed to being Always Ready and Always There for the residents of Massachusetts,” said Major General Gary W. Keefe with the Massachusetts National Guard. “Our role in the response to the ongoing housing crisis will expand to leverage our multitude of robust and adaptable capabilities in emergency and domestic operations to help those in need.”

The Massachusetts Migrant Families Relief Fund was also launched earlier this month to assist new migrant arrivals in Massachusetts.

The demand for emergency shelters in Massachusetts has skyrocketed over the past year.

There are currently nearly 5,600 families, or more than 20,000 people living in emergency state shelters, including children and pregnant women, many of whom are migrants who recently arrived in Massachusetts, officials said on August 8.

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

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