Chelsea Soldiers’ Home Shelter Hits One Month of Operation

By Adam Swift

Operations at the temporary emergency assistance shelter at the old Chelsea Soldiers’ Home hospital building are in full swing. Earlier this spring, state officials announced that the empty building would be used as an emergency shelter for six to 12 months as the state faces an influx of migrants, many from Haiti. The shelter is currently at its capacity of 100 families, or about 300 people, according to Alex Train, the Chief Operating Officer for La Colaborativa, the local human services nonprofit overseeing operations and services at the shelter. “We’re working with all the families presently on what we see as immediate stabilization – access to basic necessities, healthcare, immigration assistance – as well as dovetailing into intensive case management for all of them,” said Train. “The case management component focuses on helping families exit the shelter faster. It’s a combination of workforce training, ESOL classes, digital literacy, as well as financial counseling and housing assistance.” Train said La Colaborativa does anticipate that as people progress through the program and gain employment and housing, there will be new families moving in for the duration of the project. “From our vantage point, it’s been going remarkably well,” said Train. “We’ve been able to hire over 95 new employees, including over 75 Chelsea residents to work in the shelter with living wage conditions with good  benefits and stable income. Moreover, we’ve been able to employ a model of intensive case management and wraparound services at the shelter, which is really the first time this type of model has been used in the state’s overflow sites.” Train said La Colaborativa is continuing to work with the state on issues such as access to healthcare as well as access to various forms of immigration assistance. “Overall, everyone is situated now and the families seem to be doing really well,” said Train. City Manager Fidel Maltez said he has heard no bad news or complaints, either from residents or the city’s public safety team about the shelter operation at the soldiers’ home. “Our public safety team has visited the facility just about once a week to check in, and we have not found any issues at all with the facility, with the way it is being operated, or with the residents there,” said Maltez. “I have been extremely pleased with how well managed it is. I have spoken to the staff at the governor’s office, and they are equally pleased, and I think things are going extremely well.”

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