Mass. to close temporary shelter in Devens, relocate families
Families living at a temporary shelter in Devens have been notified it will close on Monday.
In a letter sent to residents and shared with WBUR, state officials said any families that haven’t been moved to a more permanent shelter by Monday morning would be relocated to a hotel in Concord.
The Devens facility, which opened last December, was intended to house families for just a few days as they entered the state-run family shelter system. It opened as the system experienced an influx of new migrants and other families in need of housing.
The facility drew an immediate backlash from many advocates for the homeless, who said the “barracks-style” set-up was unsuitable parents with children, and they worried about the possible spread of infectious diseases. Advocates said it marked the first time the state’s Emergency Assistance program had not provided qualifying families with private space.
“I think it will be a positive step when that facility is closed,” said Kelly Turley, associate director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. “Hopefully the state will learn lessons as they're procuring additional new spaces.”
Turley said she’d like each family to get a private room, with a door and control over their lights. She said she’s hopeful that will happen at the new facility in Concord.
A spokesperson for the Department of Housing and Community Development said that since it opened, the Devens facility has sheltered more than 900 parents and children. When the state announced the closure, there were 100 people — including 46 adults and 54 children — being sheltered at the intake center.