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National Guard armory in Lexington to house migrants, homeless families

LEXINGTON, Mass. — Dozens of migrants and their families will be housed at the National Guard armory in Lexington beginning next month, state officials confirmed Tuesday.

The decision to use the armory at 459 Bedford St. came as the state continues to grapple with a migrant crisis.

The state’s Emergency Assistance family shelter system has been operating at capacity for months amid a large influx of migrants to the Bay State.

“We have identified a state-owned building in Lexington to use as a safety-net site for families experiencing homelessness. Preparations are underway in close collaboration with local officials, and we expect to open the site next month,” Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice said in a statement on Tuesday.

At full capacity, officials expect the Lexington armory site to accommodate 55 families, including homeless families with children or pregnant women.

The Lexington safety-net site will serve families who are deemed eligible for emergency assistance and are on the state’s emergency assistance waiting list. The state’s safety-net sites currently serve approximately 350 families.

The building is owned by the state. Nine Army National Guard members provide administrative support to their respective units from the site. These operations will continue at the Armory, officials said.

The state is working to prepare the building for move-in and to identify a provider and vendors, with a priority placed on local businesses, officials said.

The new site in Lexington will be used in part to accommodate families transitioning out of the state’s safety net site at the Cass Center in Roxbury, which is slated to close at the end of May.

In March, state officials set new requirements for families being housed at state overflow sites.

In October, state officials announced that eligible migrant families seeking emergency shelter in Massachusetts would be put on a waitlist as the state’s emergency shelter system reached capacity.

Last August, Gov. Maura 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.

In July, state officials announced the opening of a migrant shelter and resource center on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy, one of several shelters that have opened up in public and privately-owned locations across the state.

Lexington is an upscale and historic town in Middlesex County, about 10 miles from downtown Boston. It is well-known as the site of the first battle of the American Revolution on April 19, 1775.

The town’s population was 34,454 as of the 2020 census.

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

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