Boston residents begin welcoming migrants into their homes amid overwhelmed shelter system

Boston residents have recently begun welcoming illegal migrants into their homes after the city’s overwhelmed shelter system prompted local Democratic officials to ask for volunteer hosts, WBTS-CD reported this week.

In November, Massachusetts Democratic Governor Maura Healey announced that the state’s homeless shelter system had reached maximum capacity after providing accommodations to 7,500 families. Since then, local officials have called on residents to volunteer to host illegal migrants in their personal residences.

On Monday, WBTS reported that Boston resident Lisa Hillenbrand welcomed a Haitian family of three into her Brookline apartment. Wildande Joseph, her husband, and their 2-year-old daughter were sleeping on the floor at the Boston Logan International Airport before Hillenbrand opened her home.

Hillenbrand told WBTS that she feels like she has her own personal chef because Wildande enjoys cooking. She noted that a number of people in her neighborhood are considering hosting families in their homes as well.

“It’s a delight, and it’s really fun having them. What I realized is there’s so much prejudice against refugees mostly because people don’t know them,” she stated. “They are hardworking, they want to learn, they want to be successful, and I feel great helping and I get to understand the refugee crisis from the inside.”

Colin and Jessica Stokes told WBZ that less than an hour after they signed up to host, four migrants were dropped off at their doorstep.

“I was like I have to get sheets on the beds. How many people are coming? Where are they from? What ages? We really knew nothing,” Jessica told the news outlet.

The Stokeses called the experience “wonderful” and encouraged other residents to consider hosting.

Democratic Boston City Councilwoman Julia Mejia is also pushing for more residents to volunteer.

“Dedham, Wellesley, Brookline – cities and towns that have so much more resources than the city of Boston. People who actually have more financial support,” Mejia told WBTS. “We need to do everything in our power to make sure that we are setting them up for success, or whatever success looks like. I think everybody should be opening their doors because this is a shared responsibility.”

Healey stated that her administration is helping approximately 3,000 migrants obtain work authorizations. The governor’s office plans to launch an $8 million pilot program that the state will fund to provide 400 migrant families with longer-term housing outside the shelter system.

Last month, Healey came under fire for her decision to shut down a community center located in Roxbury, one of Boston’s poorest neighborhoods, to convert it into a temporary migrant shelter. Within a week, the overflow shelter reached capacity.

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