Family Welcome Center in Allston will serve as a central entry point to connect families with basic necessities, services, and shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod
BOSTON – The Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced an expansion of services and shelter sites for families experiencing homelessness. On Friday, June 23, the administration is opening a “Family Welcome Center” in Allston to serve as a central entry point for families, especially immigrant families, struggling to access basic necessities, connecting them with essential supplies, services, and transportation to a safe place to stay.
Additionally, the administration will be utilizing Joint Base Cape Cod (JBCC) as a temporary shelter site to meet rising need while the state pursues additional options. As of June 23, JBCC will be able to receive 16 families to stay in the townhouses at the base and could expand to support up to 60 families. Families will be provided with transportation to JBCC from the Family Welcome Center. The administration is working to open additional Family Welcome Centers in other areas across the state in the near future.
“In Massachusetts, we are committed to ensuring that families have access to safe and secure shelter. Over the past year, we’ve seen a steady rise in shelter demand due to the rising cost of housing, more families arriving in our nation and our state from other countries, and delayed federal work authorizations. Our administration has been working hard to meet this unprecedented need and use every resource at our disposal to help families,” said Governor Healey. “That’s why we are establishing a Family Welcome Center to serve as a central entry point to connect families, particularly newly-arrived families, with the support they need, as well as turning to Joint Base Cape Cod as a temporary, emergency shelter option. We will continue working across our administration and with local and federal partners on long-term solutions to this crisis.”
“The Family Welcome Center will offer a centralized location with dedicated staff members to more efficiently connect families with resources and support,” said Lieutenant Governor Driscoll. “Additionally, the townhouses at Joint Base Cape Cod provide a comfortable and private location for families to be in community, enjoy outdoor space, and access service providers, resources and amenities to meet their immediate needs. This is a temporary solution, but we are grateful to the Massachusetts National Guard and the service providers who are working hard to ensure we provide families with safe places to stay.”
The Family Welcome Center is located at the Brazilian Worker Center at 14 Harvard Ave, Allston and will serve as the primary referral mechanism for families to travel to JBCC. There will be dedicated staff members at the Family Welcome Center charged with assessing families and determining their eligibility for housing at JBCC, and then coordinate transportation to JBCC.
The Welcome Center will operate from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Monday–Friday, and noon to 7:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday, to facilitate efficient connection of families to temporary and longer-term shelter as appropriate. In addition to shelter intake services for JBCC, the Family Welcome Center will provide basic necessities including food, baby formula, and diapers. In the coming weeks, Family Welcome Center offerings will expand to include connection to health services, and assistance with enrollment in Department of Transitional Assistance programs, MassHealth, WIC and other supports.
As part of the ongoing collaborative effort to mobilize a temporary emergency shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) is coordinating with the Massachusetts National Guard to accommodate up to 60 units of housing. The units are townhouse-style, furnished accommodations with shared green space for recreation.
In addition, MEMA is contracting with a vendor to support shelter operations and provide services, including shelter program staffing, janitorial, linens, laundry, and medical services. MEMA will coordinate a regular shuttle to provide transportation off base to designated pick up and drop off points to ensure that families are able to access local community resources.
With the opening of the temporary family shelter, Governor Healey will activate up to 50 Massachusetts National Guard personnel to support the success of the humanitarian operation at JBCC. These individuals will be available to assist state and local authorities, support base operations and ensure the security of the base complex.
“The Family Welcome Center model is a more streamlined entry point for families who arrive in the Commonwealth to access shelter, food, and other basic necessities,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Kate Walsh. “In the coming months, Family Welcome Centers will offer a wider range of resources including connection to legal services and community organizations. With extended hours and multiple locations across the state to open in the coming weeks, Family Welcome Centers will help ease the strain on our hospitals, resettlement agencies, and other organizations that have served as informal entry points to the system.”
“JBCC is a MEMA-designated emergency shelter, and its existing infrastructure provides a temporary accommodation that is well-equipped to meet the safety, security, and privacy needs of families,” said Public Safety and Security Secretary Terrence Reidy. “I commend our state and local partners for their coordination, resourcefulness, and tireless commitment to serving those in their time of greatest need. The growing demand for humanitarian support has been met with a collaborative spirit and ingenuity reflective of our Commonwealth’s best values.”
“It is clear that our housing crisis is pushing our most vulnerable families into precarious housing situations and increasing demand for emergency shelter. We have engaged in a cross-cabinet effort to recognize and address the needs of new arrivals and longtime residents who are unable to find affordable, safe housing,” said Housing and Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus. “The new Family Welcome Center and additional shelter at Joint Base Cape Cod will help us relieve pressure on our emergency family shelter system with an inter-agency response to meet the needs of residents and families.”
The Healey-Driscoll Administration recently implemented an Incident Command Structure to lead a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of families seeking shelter – including the Governor’s Office, Administration and Finance, Health and Human Services, Housing and Livable Communities, Public Safety and Security, Labor and Workforce Development, and Education. Governor Healey also recently appointed a new leadership team at the Office for Refugees and Immigrants to spearhead efforts to ensure that refugees and immigrants in Massachusetts are met with comprehensive, compassionate, and culturally appropriate services and supports.
In March, Governor Healey signed a supplemental budget into law that dedicated $85 million to the Emergency Assistance program to meet the demand of a growing number of families, immigrants and refugees facing homelessness. The Governor’s FY24 budget proposal recommended a $324 million budget for the EA program, which represents a 48% percent increase above the FY23 budget. She also recommended more than $2 million for the Office of Refugees and Immigrants, roughly a $280,000 or 16 percent increase from FY23. The administration also recently awarded $1.75 million to form the Immigrant Assistance Services (IAS), a new case management program designed to assist newly arrived immigrants in Massachusetts so they can access services that address their immediate needs and help them achieve stability.
At this time all immediate needs of shelter clients are being met though existing resources provided by our state partners, and the organizations assisting with this temporary shelter operation. Please note that unsolicited volunteers and donations cannot be accepted at Joint Base Cape Cod. The administration and its partners will work to ensure that residents’ basic needs are met and encourages those who wish to donate items and provide assistance to support the many reputable causes and organizations serving people experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts. In the coming weeks, additional information will be shared to coordinate volunteer donations.