Roxbury recreation center approaches capacity for migrant families

By Haley Clough

Courtesy of Creative Commons

The Melnea Cass Recreation Center in Roxbury is quickly approaching capacity, putting state officials in a difficult position when finding shelter for migrant families entering Massachusetts. The shelter, opened just last week, has an intended capacity of 400. With thousands of families entering Massachusetts in need of aid and shelter this winter, Gov. Maura Healy’s administration and Boston Mayor Michelle Wu are in search of new locations.

Senator Nick Collins and other colleagues have proposed college campuses with open dorm spaces such as UMass Mt. Ida campus in Newton as temporary housing. According to NBC Boston, Gov. Healy’s administration swiftly vetoed the idea. State and city officials have entertained the possibility of moving those in need of shelter to roughly 15 different locations across Boston, particularly to an office building in Fort Point, but the concern is that this building does not have showers. 

The current shelter in Roxbury has itself faced controversy for being offered as a housing location. When Gov. Healy and Mayor Wu visited the shelter two weeks ago, protesters expressed frustration with the Massachusetts government for selecting a “historically marginalized neighborhood,” as NBC Boston said, to house migrants as opposed to an area of higher wealth that could have more locations available.

“I keep saying this is not a problem about migrant families,” Mayor Wu told NBC Boston. “This is a problem about housing that we had before anyone came, that we have across every community.” She explained that the housing crisis is not unique to migrant families, and that Boston residents waitlisted for BHA (Boston Housing Authority) are in the tens of thousands.