Editorial: Migrant surge on collision course with housing crisis

As Joe Biden tackles the border/migrant crisis one bungle at a time, the unanswered question is this: “What happens next?”

Gov. Maura Healey, like leaders of other states buckling under the strain of a never-ending migrant influx, is on board with Biden’s short-term solution bonanza.

As the Herald reported, the Healey Administration and the White House announced a plan to help some new arrivals secure employment.

During the week of Nov. 13, officials from the Department of Homeland Security and the Bay State will host a “work authorization clinic” for migrant families currently living in state-provided housing.

“We are glad that the Biden-Harris Administration is hosting this clinic with us, which will help process work authorizations as efficiently as possible. Many shelter residents want to work but face significant barriers to getting their work authorizations,” Healey said.

“This clinic will be critical for building on the work that our administration has already been leading to connect more migrants with work opportunities, which will help them support their families and move out of emergency shelter into more stable housing options,” she said.

And what stable housing options might those be? There’s a shortage of affordable housing in Massachusetts as it is, as the non-migrants in the state’s shelter system can no doubt attest.

Rising rents have made it increasingly difficult for working families to afford to keep a roof over their heads. Having a job doesn’t guarantee you’ll have enough to rent a home or apartment.

In fact, Healey addressed this very issue last week, with the release of a $4 billion bond bill aimed at spurring housing production and boosting affordable home ownership. The Affordable Homes Act, a package of spending, policy and programmatic actions, represents the largest proposed investment in housing in the state’s history while simultaneously striking at the root causes of housing unaffordability, according to an administration release.

So, when migrants in our overwhelmed state shelters get work authorization help and secure jobs, where will they move to? What happens next? Whatever affordable housing options are produced by Healey’s bill are down the road at best, so migrants will find themselves in the same boat as others looking for a place to live that won’t take up their entire paycheck, and then some.

Leaders are working on that solution, and have been as the number of unhoused grows in Massachusetts. The migrant influx isn’t helping, and gainful employment for new arrivals will provide a leg up, but not necessarily the sort of boost that leads to a stable address.

There are two simultaneous crises in the Bay State: a migrant influx and housing. One needs to be solved, or at least greatly ameliorated, before the other can be competently dealt with.

Also omitted by Biden and Healey: there are more migrants coming. As the Associated Press reported, some 5,000 migrants set out on foot from Mexico’s southern border Monday, walking north toward the U.S.

Here they can get a drivers license and a job – and join the scrum to find

Editorial cartoon by Chip Bok (Creators Syndicate)

a place to live.




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