Lawmakers to DHS and FEMA: “Massachusetts is committed to welcoming immigrants with care and compassion . . . But the Commonwealth and municipalities cannot shoulder the serious financial costs of this humanitarian crisis alone.”  

Letter Text (PDF) 

BOSTON, MA - Democratic Whip Katherine Clark (MA-5) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representatives Richard E. Neal (MA-1), Jim McGovern (MA-2),  Lori Trahan (MA-3), Jake Auchincloss (MA-4), Seth Moulton (MA-6), Ayanna Pressley (MA-7), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-8), and Bill Keating (MA-9) in sending a letter to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Deanne Criswell urging them to immediately allocate FEMA’s Shelter and Services Program (SSP) funding to Massachusetts and other states, which are in desperate need of federal support to welcome new arrivals. The SSP funding will provide vital support for a humanitarian response to the unprecedented influx of newly arriving migrants into Massachusetts.

In their letter, the lawmakers wrote, “Now is a critical moment to provide federal relief to Massachusetts as the Commonwealth continues its steadfast efforts to care for new arrivals and existing residents alike, as well as ensure the state’s long-term financial stability. We urge you to expeditiously distribute SSP funding to state and local entities so that communities can continue to support their newest residents.” 

Despite the delegation’s effort to provide sufficient SSP funding, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2024 provided FEMA with $650 million. This funding, while important relief, is not enough to address the full scale of the financial crisis across the country, including Massachusetts. The Commonwealth has experienced a rapid increase in migrants, placing a significant strain on its shelter system and existing resources. Over the past two years, families have been arriving in Massachusetts at a dramatic rate, spiking in the second half of 2023. In June 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development was providing shelter in hotels for 19 families, but now is housing more than 3,800 families in hotels in addition to the more than 3,600 families currently in traditional shelters. In their letter, the lawmakers explain that the last round of SSP funds were allocated in September 2023 and did not use this data that reflected the exponential growth of new arrivals in Massachusetts in 2023. The lawmakers emphasized that FEMA must consider new migration trends to ensure equitable distribution of SSP funds, as stated in their letter on December 6, 2023.

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