Updated at 10:09 a.m.
State officials sent more than 100 people needing shelter to a hotel in Kingston, Massachusetts, with very little advance notice, the town administrator told GBH News.
Keith Hickey said he was told last week that nine people would be housed in Kingston. He said by Saturday the number had risen from nine to 26 and on Monday, he was informed the number had risen all to way to 107. While some families are new arrivals to the United States, others are people with longer residency in Massachusetts.
Hickey said the state's Department of Housing and Community Development didn't give the town enough time to prepare.
"It would have given the school department — who I think's gonna have the biggest impact [on] — it would have given them a little bit of a head start on trying to provide the necessary support that the 20 kids are gonna need that are gonna attend Kingston schools for six weeks or so," he told GBH News.
Hickey said his understanding is that the group includes 46 children, 20 of whom are school age and will be attending Kingston schools at some point in the near future.
"Our principals have been notified. They will assign students to classes and assess educational needs," said Jill Proulx, superintendent of Silver Lake Regional School District, which includes Kingston, Plympton and Halifax. "The town administrator told me that they anticipate the students would attend until January 1st. I am not sure what the plans are after that date."
Officials in Plymouth are experiencing a similar situation. The state this week booked more than two dozen hotel rooms in the town for migrant families, Plymouth Town Manager Derek Brindisi said. Eight families arrived Tuesday night, just hours after the town received notice from the Department of Housing and Community Development. Brindisi said he's aware of 19 more families who will be coming.
"We're just trying to get a better sense of what the state's plan is," Brindisi said. "We do know that this is supposedly temporary housing. So we're looking for a long-term plan by the state. I'm trying to understand which organizations handling the medical needs. The school department is trying to get a sense of how many children will be entering this school system, and what are the language needs for these students? So there are a number of questions that still have gone unanswered."
Although the state is taking care of almost all the family’s needs, those uncertainties are fueling frustrations, he said.
"The schools are going to have an unexpected expense. And, you know, our expectation is that the state will come through and will provide the resources necessary for the school department to provide the services that are necessary," Brindisi said.
The situations in Kingston and Plymouth resemble what happened recently in Methuen, where the city recently had to react on a short notice to multiple families being placed at a hotel there.
In a statement, Kelsey Schiller, a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Housing & Economic Development, wrote that the department has a process in place to provide emergency shelter to eligible homeless families, including in hotels and motels as a last resort.
"Due to high demand in the shelter system, some families recently have been temporarily placed in hotels, including in Plymouth and in Kingston, while more permanent shelter or housing is found," Schiller said in the statement.
This is a developing story.