Over the last 72 hours, we’ve learned that Plainville is part of a broader picture involving at least 70 communities in Massachusetts, each navigating similar challenges resulting from the Governor’s emergency placement of unsheltered migrant families in hotels across the Commonwealth. Neither our town nor any of the others “volunteered” for this assignment. Our Town Administrator and I will be actively collaborating with neighboring communities like Foxboro, Norton, Franklin, and Mansfield to share information and coordinate our efforts.
These families coming into our town are being provided shelter in line with Massachusetts’ “Right-to-Shelter” Law. They are, to the best of our understanding, refugees from Haiti who are in the United States legally, and in various stages of the refugee process, with temporary protected status. They have the potential to contribute to our community once they obtain work authorizations from the Federal Government.
Currently, 11 families have been accommodated in one hotel, and we’ve just learned this morning that an additional 25 rooms have been reserved at another hotel in Plainville through the end of October. We do not know if that commitment can be extended. While the suddenness of this development might be unsettling, it’s important to remember that these families are likely also feeling a mix of relief and uncertainty as they transition into new surroundings.
Our School Superintendent is liaising with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to explore the potential impact on our schools. The State, via DESE, has committed that any additional students from these families will come with funding from the State.
Importantly, we have not spent any town funds on these arrangements, nor are there any expectations that we will. The State is shouldering the costs of housing, food, and educational support. We are keeping a close eye on how this might affect Plainville in any way.
We understand that there are still many unanswered questions. Your queries and your offers of help are greatly appreciated. It’s frustrating for all of us—local, state, and federal agencies included—to not have all the answers immediately. We are committed to getting as much information as we can, as soon as we can.
This situation is challenging, especially when it comes suddenly and without all the details we’d like. We share your concerns and are committed to managing this situation responsibly.
Thank you for your understanding and for being an integral part of what makes Plainville special.
Jeffrey JohnsonChair of the Select Board