Massachusetts lawmakers considering using convention centers as overflow sites for migrants, homeless families

Massachusetts state lawmakers are considering using convention centers like the Hynes in downtown Boston as an overflow site for homeless and migrant families waiting for emergency shelter, the top House Democrat said Wednesday.

Emergency shelters in the state are expected to reach the Healey administration’s self-imposed capacity of 7,500 families this week, and House lawmakers have proposed shuttling $50 million to the creation of an overflow site for families who are placed on a state-run waitlist.

House Speaker Ronald Mariano said officials have discussed “a lot of different options” when asked if the Hynes Convention Center or other similar locations have been floated as potential locations.

“All those things could be in play. All of those we suggested,” he told reporters at the State House. “We talked about a lot of different options. There are plenty in the state and it’s up to (the Healey administration) as to how many we need. Do we need one? If we have Hynes, will that do it? Or do we need multiple locations all across the state?”

Mariano said officials have discussed “a lot of different ways to attack the problem.”

“And some have multiple locations and some have single big locations,” he said, adding he believes the state has provider capacity to set up overflow sites. “I would think that we would be able to do that. The providers have been helpful. And we’re asking them to do a lot and they need to do more.”

Legislation mandating the creation of an overflow site is up for a vote in the House Wednesday. The proposal requires the Healey administration to find, set up, and run an overflow site within 30 days of the bill’s effective date.

If the bill passes the House, it would still need approval from the Senate and Gov. Maura Healey. Formal legislative sessions are scheduled to end for the year on Nov. 15.

This is a developing story…

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