- Governor Maura Healey and Lt. Governor Kim Driscoll
Media Contact for Governor Healey Activates National Guard to Provide Services at Emergency Shelter Sites
Karissa Hand, Press Secretary
Boston — Governor Maura T. Healey today issued an order activating up to 250 National Guard members to provide basic services at emergency shelter hotels that do not currently have a contracted service provider. The administration is also launching Regional Rapid Response Teams to assist with overseeing shelter sites and serving as a direct contact to the administration to address any concerns.
Earlier this month, the Governor issued a state of emergency over rapidly rising numbers of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts, requiring the state’s emergency shelter system to expand in an unsustainable manner. There are currently more than 6,000 families, including children and pregnant women, in emergency shelters across the state.
“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.”
“This National Guard activation is a necessary step to ensure that families in emergency shelter have access to the services they need to stay safe and healthy,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “This is an emergency measure that will help us meet immediate needs while we continue to advocate for assistance from the federal government in the form of streamlined work authorizations and funding.”
“We are committed to being Always Ready and Always There for the residents of Massachusetts,” said Maj. Gen. Gary W. Keefe, The Adjutant General, 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.”
As the administration has continued to add new shelter sites to meet demand, service providers have been stretched thin. This action by Governor Healey will help ensure that families placed in hotels have access to basic services. Beginning next week, each National Guard member will be assigned to a specific hotel shelter sites, where they will facilitate the onsite coordination of services such as food, basic needs, transportation, and medical care delivered by the site, external vendors, community organizations, and state and local government. This will include assisting local school districts with enrolling children in a school that meets their educational needs.
The Guard will also be responsible for escalating issues to newly created Regional Rapid Response Teams. The teams will be staffed by state employees and tasked with overseeing sites in a given geographic region to better coordinate services and serve as central points of contact in the administration for any issues or concerns. The Regional Response Teams will prepare sites for opening, communicate site-specifics to inform placements, arrange connection to public benefits, and support municipal and legislative partners.
In issuing her emergency declaration earlier this month, Governor Healey appealed to the federal government for assistance with streamlining work authorizations and funding. Last week, the Governor and her team met with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas to discuss the support that Massachusetts needs to address the rapidly rising number of migrant families arriving in Massachusetts, including work authorizations. The administration and the City of Boston also recently received a $1.9 million grant from FEMA to support shelter services.