Shelter Expected to Remain Open through June

April 4, 2024

The emergency shelter at 340 The Great Road, housing some 90 migrant families, is expected to remain open until the end of June.

Bedford Director of Health and Human Services Heidi Porter told the Board of Health at its meeting on Monday that the target is unofficial.  

The state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities opened the shelter at the Bedford Plaza Hotel last August, and near the end of February, school and town officials were informed that it would be closed with residents there relocating to another facility.

There was no official date, although Porter said the plan was for mid-April. “We’ve had to pull dates out of them.”

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School Superintendent Cliff Chuang was “quite adamant” in conveying to state officials that if the transition doesn’t take place during the April vacation, it has to be delayed until the school year is over to minimize the impact on children. About 50 migrant students are enrolled in the town’s schools.

In a statement Tuesday night, Chuang wrote, “We continue to work collaboratively with the state on their shelter consolidation plan, and it is our understanding that every effort is being made to minimize disruption to the education of school-age children. We continue to insist that minimizing disruption to our school-age children in Bedford be a top priority.”

“We don’t know where the residents are going,” Porter told the board. That is an important variable, because the law gives parents the option of sending their children back to Bedford next school year.

Porter, who said she continues to meet virtually with state officials weekly, said “what we are really working on now in the short term is trying to educate parents about their rights” in deciding whether to enroll children in their new town of residence or return to Bedford schools. “I think we all are kind of grateful that we have time to help prepare the families,” Porter added.

Asked if her department is considering any summer activities aimed at shelter residents, Porter said, “We are going along with the understanding that it is going to be open until it is closed.”

Some families have found housing, she noted, and “you would expect someone would fill that.” There are still migrants who are living in places that they have to vacate during the day, she noted, such as Logan International Airport.

Porter also reported that First Connections, a regional agency that serves pre-school parents, is planning and delivering programming for pre-school children at the shelter.

“We’ve become attached to some of the folks,” Porter told the board. “Everybody’s doing really well, asking about what they can do to move to the next phase of their lives.”

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