Policy

Governor Baker wants the legislature to grant him $139 million to expand the state’s shelter system, among other things in his new bill.

Governor Charlie Baker filed a bill in the House on Friday asking for money to help deal with the state’s migrant crisis. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Governor Charlie Baker is asking the legislature for $139 million to fund his plan to deal with the recent influx of migrants into Massachusetts and its impact on the state’s shelter system.

Baker filed on Fridayspeaking that the funds will increase the country’s emergency shelter capacity and improve the services provided to migrants through the shelter system.

“Massachusetts’ emergency shelter system supports thousands of families each year, but the recent surge in new migrants coupled with a tight housing market has led to a need for more capacity across the system,” Baker said in a release.

“These expanded resources will help us address this humanitarian crisis quickly and effectively, especially as we enter the winter months.”

What’s in the bill

The project provides for three main allocations.

The first includes $73 million to increase the overall capacity of the shelter system. Baker said the money would fund the creation of more than 1,300 additional temporary shelters.

Second, the bill includes $20 million to set up and maintain a temporary central reception facility. At the center, Baker said, families will receive timely case management services and full admission assessments during the first few days in the shelter system.

The third section of the bill provides for $37 million in costs to place new students in local schools by the end of FY24.

The bill also includes several policy changes that Baker believes will allow the state to respond more effectively to the immigrant housing crisis.

One of the major policy changes would allow the state, in partnership with local school districts, to admit in-state students from nearby districts. Baker said it would help local communities manage the impact of student growth.

How bad is the problem

According Boston Globe, the state currently accommodates many migrants in hotels. In letter Baker wrote to join the bill, said the shelter system was already running out of steam and cases were expected to increase in the coming months.

The Globe reported that at least 11,000 migrants have arrived in Massachusetts so far this year. The newspaper reported that most of these immigrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border, fleeing economic and political crises in their countries of origin.

Baker said the migrants come mainly from Afghanistan, Ukraine, Haiti and Venezuela. In the communiqué and letter, he specifically blamed the Biden administration and federal immigration policy for causing the state’s migrant crisis.

“We look forward to working with our partners in the legislature, the non-profit community and local government as we all take on this unprecedented challenge, which is unfortunately caused by the federal government’s inability to address our country’s immigration challenges,” he said.

What’s next

On Tuesday, the Globe reported that Baker has announced the opening of a temporary shelter and resource center in Devens next month to help ease the migrant crisis in the short term.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will use the local community center as a temporary residence for up to 60 families or 125 people at a time. Globe reported. It will also provide food, laundry and other services.

Last month, Globe Baker has asked the Biden administration for “urgent help” in dealing with the migrant crisis. But as of Monday, he has yet to receive an answer.

Despite the urgent need for action, Globe wrote, it is unclear whether the legislature will respond to the bill before Baker leaves office in January.

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