Next stop Seaport? Boston neighbors told brace for migrants

Next stop Seaport? Boston neighbors told brace for migrants

BOSTON — The city has warned startled Fort Point neighbors to be ready for migrants to move into their Seaport district.

The Healey administration is eyeing an office building on Farnsworth Street as the next spot to house homeless migrants, the Herald has learned. The location is amid the bustling Seaport not far from the Children’s Museum.

“We’ve got 1,000 questions,” a Fort Point resident told the Herald. “We’ve demanded a meeting with the city today.”

The neighborhood is one of the most vibrant, having grown into an economic engine for Boston.

An email sharing the potential migrant move to the Seaport area obtained by the Herald goes on to say other groups “need to be communicated with” about the possibility of migrants squeezing into the area.
In another email obtained by the Herald, state Rep. David Biele states that the United Way received a grant from the Healey administration to identify and set up overflow shelters for families on the waitlist throughout the state. A similar site was established in Newton through Catholic Charities, he wrote.

“The administration is in conversations with a private landowner on Farnsworth Street regarding a similar overflow site in an empty part of the building,” Biele, who represents South Boston, wrote in the email. “Nothing has been finalized yet.”

City Councilor Ed Flynn, who represents parts of South Boston, shared his concerns about the potential for sheltering migrant families in an office building in a Wednesday night statement to the Herald.

“I have serious concerns and questions about this proposal,” Flynn said. “I’m also seeking information from city and state officials about this site and proposal, including the lack of any showers at this proposed site. Not having showers on site for families should be a non-starter.”

City Councilor-at-Large Erin Murphy also raised concerns about whether the space would be adequately suited for a temporary shelter.

“As an at-large city councilor, my focus remains on advocating for all residents, in every neighborhood,” Murphy said in a statement. “We have to find an equitable balance between helping the migrants in need and at the same time making sure we are not taking much-needed resources away from our neighbors.”

She added, “This current location that has been chosen for the Fort Point is an office building. How much retrofitting will need to be done for this space to properly, and safely, accommodate families sleeping there?”

Mayor Michelle Wu said on a Wednesday morning podcast that while the city and state looked at 15 buildings in Boston, the state ultimately settled on the Roxbury Melnea A. Cass Recreational Complex as an overflow site due the immediate availability of shower and bathroom facilities.

The state is also considering the Comfort Inn at 900 Morrissey Blvd. in Dorchester for an overflow site to house migrant families, the Herald has learned, as the Roxbury Cass Center is quickly reaching its 400-person capacity.

A spokesperson for Gov. Maura Healey told the Herald Wednesday night, “The state and United Way have been evaluating additional safety-net sites. No new sites are confirmed at this time.”

The state is operating other safety-net sites in Cambridge, Quincy and Revere, and United Way also has those types of sites in Greater Boston and Central Massachusetts, Healey’s office previously said.

A spokesperson for the Pine Street Inn said she was not familiar with any plans for a migrant overflow shelter in that location.

The state’s decision to convert the Roxbury Cass Center into a safety-net site, particularly for migrant families sleeping at Logan International Airport, prompted criticism from the community, including the city’s mayor. It is set to close May 31.