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March 25, 2024

Family in state-run shelters need to recertify each month, governor says

A large building sits behind a sign Image | Courtesy of Google Maps The Melnea Cass Recreation Center in Roxbury, site of one of the state's overflow shelters

Families eligible for state safety-net shelters will need to be recertified each month to remain in the overflow family shelter sites as of May 1, according to Gov. Maura Healey's office.

The governor announced the new requirements as the overflow sites swell with families in need of housing and unable to secure a spot in the larger emergency shelter system that Healey capped at 7,500 families last fall.

Families will need to show documented engagement in case management and rehousing efforts monthly in order to remain eligible to stay at a safety-net site, also called overflow sites, where families have temporary beds available to them.

"We have said for months now that our system is at capacity, and we do not have the space, providers or funding to continue expanding,” said Emergency Assistance Director General Scott Rice. "This new certification policy is a responsible step to address the capacity constraints at our safety-net sites. Families will need to demonstrate that they’ve taken action to get on a path toward independence and out of shelter." 

The policy does not apply to safety net sites operated by the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the governor's office said. 

The administration also announced Monday that it will be opening a new overflow site next month at the former Chelsea Soldiers' Home facility, which is currently vacant and slated to be demolished.

At full capacity, it will be able to accommodate about 100 families, according to Healey's team. Services will be available on site, including assistance with applying for work authorizations, connecting with employers, and finding stable housing.

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