Massachusetts Democratic Governor Maura Healey recently announced plans to convert an active, state-owned recreation center into a homeless shelter for migrants, including those currently sleeping at Boston’s Logan Airport, WHDH reported Tuesday.
Healey’s decision to use the community center as a temporary overflow shelter for illegal migrants is facing backlash from local residents and families who utilize the center’s recreational space.
According to WHDH, Melnea Cass recreation center in Roxbury, a neighborhood in Boston, will begin welcoming migrants on Wednesday. The center will house up to 100 families or 400 individuals waiting for permanent accommodations.
Healey told the news outlet Tuesday that the decision was “just born out of necessity.”
“We’ve been all over the state,” she said. “We’re now coming to Boston.”
City Councilor Tania Fernandes Anderson described the Roxbury community as “very vulnerable.” She noted that programs currently held at the recreation center will be moved. It is unclear where they will be relocated.
“The constituents have been stating loud and clear, ‘You are displacing us,'” Fernandes Anderson told WHDH. “But this means that there’s an opportunity here.”
Healey noted that the community center will stop serving as a shelter and reopen by May 31.
Boston Democratic Mayor Michelle Wu expressed disappointment about closing down the community center.
“I’ll just start by saying there are no good options,” Wu told WBUR. “For the first community where this is being proposed to be Roxbury, a community that over so many decades has faced disinvestment, redlining, disproportionate outcomes. It’s very painful, and it’s painfully familiar.”
During an interview with WCVB, Healey teared up as she discussed the plans to convert the recreation center into a shelter.
“I get emotional, guys, okay? Because I’m committed to this. Little kids need to be able to breathe clean air. They need to be able to access swimming pools. They need to have lifeguards there who can teach them how to swim. And they need to have activities. I don’t know what we’re going to do for a couple, three months. I’ll call universities. I’ll call other places,” Healey said.
A report last week from WBZ-TV revealed that roughly 100 migrants are sleeping on the floor of Boston’s Logan Airport amid the state’s overwhelmed shelter system, Blaze News previously reported.
In August, Healey declared a state of emergency over the migrant crisis. She has repeatedly called on the federal government for assistance. The state’s homeless shelter system reached maximum capacity in November.
WCVB reported that protesters gathered outside the community center on Wednesday holding signs that read, “Close the border,” “Help Boston kids first,” “Our city, our spaces,” and “Why Roxbury? Try Wellesley,” referring to an affluent town in Norfolk County.
The news outlet stated that there are currently 656 families on the state’s waitlist seeking shelter accommodations.