MIDDLEBORO — Roughly 75 unsheltered migrants arrived at a local Middleboro hotel from Haiti after being placed in the emergency shelter by the state of Massachusetts.
Town officials announced Thursday that about 20 Haitian families, many with children, will shelter at the hotel and the town will provide them with clothes, toiletries and toys donated by several local groups and organizations, as well as a Savers in Plymouth.
"Last Friday, on very short notice from the state, we received notice that several unsheltered migrants from Haiti were being sent to be housed at a hotel here in town," said Middleboro Town Manager James McGrail said Thursday, Sept. 28.
"When they arrived, many of them had nothing but the clothes on their backs, including T-shirts and flip flops. None of them speak English," McGrail said. "Many of them have young children and they were lacking any basic necessities, things we take for granted like toothbrushes, socks, water, diapers and baby formula."
Massachusetts is a 'right to shelter' state
As a “right to shelter state,” Massachusetts guarantees that families can be housed in temporary shelters to alleviate homelessness. The law extends to families, pregnant women and migrant families.
The town's Local Emergency Planning Committee — a group comprised of several Middleboro town department heads — is coordinating the services for families while they're in emergency housing.
"These people all want the same things that we want for our families, a roof over their heads, food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs and a safe and welcoming learning environment for their children," McGrail said.
What the town is doing for migrants
"Since their arrival, we have been working around the clock to secure donations of critical supplies and necessities for these families in need," said McGrail.
The Middleboro Health Department and Massachusetts Department of Public Health have been conducting needs and health assessments for each family, and children will receive any required vaccines.
Middleboro Police Officer Gustavo Ribeiro, who speaks Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and English, will provide translation services to help the migrant families communicate with town officials. Middleboro Public Schools also secured translation devices to provide additional help.
The schools will also provide various in-person services for the families and the Middleboro Fire Department is delivering water and other supplies to the hotel.
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Migrant kids to attend school
14 migrant children have already been enrolled in MPS schools and will start school next week. Wednesday night, school officials arranged a test bus ride for the children from the hotel to their respective schools and then back. According to the town, the test ride was many of the kids' first time riding on a school bus.
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The state will provide the school district with funding and additional supplies for the new students, and MPS has already given them necessary school supplies for the start of their classes.
The town is still accepting monetary donations and winter clothing for the migrants.
"Putting politics aside, I would like to acknowledge and commend our Town employees who have stepped up in a big way to help these families in need," Select Board Chair Germain said. "Their mobilization effort and what they've been able to accomplish in less than a week's time is extraordinary. The Town of Middleborough should be proud of our response thus far and we will be continuing these efforts going forward."
This article originally appeared on The Enterprise: Massachusetts places migrant families from Haiti in Middleboro hotel