Sixteen families placed in Shrewsbury shelter

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A sign in downtown Marlborough asks residents to get vaccinated against COVID-19. (Photo/Dakota Antelman)
(Photo/Dakota Antelman)

SHREWSBURY – According to a joint press release from the town manager and the superintendent of schools, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development has placed 16 families in a Shrewsbury lodging facility until further notice.

The state department is legally obligated to find housing for eligible families, and although the department currently has approximately 3,600 shelter units across the state, nearly all are currently occupied. With the shortage of affordable housing and shelter beds, the department has turned to other nontraditional facilities – like the one in Shrewsbury – to accommodate people.

Massachusetts is the country’s only “right to shelter” state, meaning that “low-income
Massachusetts families who meet certain eligibility requirements have a legal right to shelter.”

The law has made the state have one of the lowest rates of unsheltered family homelessness in the nation.

Towns cannot refuse to provide shelter.

According to the press release, “the town is working closely with DHCD, Representative Hannah Kane and Senator Michael Moore, and our local social services agency, Shrewsbury Youth and Family Services, to ensure the needs of the families are met.”

The shelter guests – mainly families with children under 21 or pregnant women – are currently being supported by a third-party contractor from the state.

The relocation of the families may impact the school system. The press release notes that “some school-aged children may enroll in Shrewsbury Public Schools, while others may remain enrolled in other area schools.”

The school district will be reimbursed for any costs associated with educating the students.

There is no timeframe for how long the families may stay at the shelter.

The town invites the community to help the effort to support these families. If anyone would like to help, the town will be accepting monetary donations. Checks can be made out to the Town of Shrewsbury and should include “migrant/homeless shelter” in the memo. The check can be dropped off at Town Hall.

Monetary donations are also accepted online through a portal at https://shrewsburyma.viewpointcloud.com/categories/1112

No donations should be dropped off directly at the facility, and no in-kind donations, such as clothing or hygiene products, are needed at this time.

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