A decision to close a community center in Massachusetts so the facility can be converted to a temporary housing shelter for migrants has prompted backlash from the city’s residents.
Gov. Maura Healey’s office said Wednesday the decision to move migrants into the state-owned Melnea Cass Recreation Center in Roxbury, a neighborhood in Boston, was “just born out of necessity” as other facilities in the state that have served as housing shelters, including the Logan Airport, have become overwhelmed, WHDH reported. “We just have to do what we have to do at this time,” she added.
But the governor’s decision does not sit well with some officials or residents, who have expressed disappointment with the government taking resources from its citizens to care for those who only recently entered the country.
“I think it’s messed up for the youth because our youth don’t have enough as it is,” one resident told WHDH.
Boston Mayor Michelle Wu shared a similar sentiment over the state’s proposal, saying it was “very painful,” WBUR reported.
“I’ll just start by saying there are no good options,” Wu said during an appearance Monday on WBUR’s Radio Boston.
“For the first community where this is being proposed to be Roxbury, a community that over so many decades has faced disinvestment, redlining, disproportionate outcomes. It’s very painful, and it’s painfully familiar,” Wu added. “It feels like a particular inflection point when we are now taking offline buildings that are beloved and well used and dedicated to community programming because we now have such a crisis.“
Wu said city officials were “working with the state to try to identify every other option,” WBUR reported.
The Melnea Cass Recreation Center has been closed since Sunday in preparation for migrants’ arrival, according to the report. Crews have been seen dropping off supplies at the facility to convert it into a shelter since Tuesday.
The state intends to stop housing migrants at the facility in May, and to reopen it to the public and resume its normal functions by June.
Emergency Assistance Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice told Fox News Digital that the state appreciates the cooperation it has with the city and hopes to help build up the city long-term.
“On Jan. 31, 2024, the Cass Recreation Center will begin serving as a temporary safety-net site for families in need of shelter, especially those who have been sleeping at Logan Airport,” Rice said. “We appreciate the collaboration of the city, Roxbury elected officials, and the community who worked with us to ensure we could provide families with a safe and warm place to stay while minimizing the impact to the Roxbury community. We are working to relocate recreation programs, ensuring the recreation center and the pool can reopen in June, continuing to make improvements to the center for the long-term benefit of the community, and prioritizing diverse and local vendors.”
Once finished, it will house up to 100 families or 400 individuals who are awaiting more permanent housing.
Earlier in the week, the governor said she had visited other areas of the state to accommodate the migrants, who are currently being housed at the Logan Airport. According to MassLive, “about 80%” of the migrants are from Haiti.
“We’ve been all over the state,” Healey said Tuesday, WHDH reported. “We’re now coming to Boston.”
There are other overflow sites housing migrants in Quincy and Cambridge.
City Council member Tania Fernandes Anderson, who represents the area where the Melnea Cass Center is located, said many residents feel displaced by the governor’s decision.
“The constituents have been stating loud and clear, ‘You are displacing us,’” Anderson said.
Former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh told the outlet that the decision to house the migrants was “difficult.”
“It’s complicated,” he said. “It’s not an easy situation.”
Fox News Digital reached out to the governor’s office but did not immediately receive a response.