The rush to provide housing and essential services to migrants arriving in Massachusetts is putting agencies around the Commonwealth to the test. Community centers and hotels are being converted to temporary housing. Volunteer organizations are stepping in to fill the gaps. In Cambridge, a converted courthouse is being used as a shelter for families — but only at night, a situation that's left many migrants either shuttling to somewhere else or being left with nowhere to go during the day. State Representative Mike Connolly, who represents Cambridge, joined GBH’s Morning Edition co-host Jeremy Siegel to discuss the latest. This transcript has been lightly edited.

Jeremy Siegel: You are leading a call to make this center in Cambridge a 24-hour, seven days a week shelter. Why, from your perspective, is that needed?

Rep Mike Connolly: Well, first, I think we have to recognize as you did, this is an unprecedented emergency. It's so difficult. And, never have we seen homes this unaffordable. Never have we seen homelessness this pervasive. I wouldn't say it's just me leading a call. There has been a growing conversation in the city of Cambridge over the past several weeks on the need for 24/7 access to the shelter, and in particular with several of the families having children enrolled in our schools. We've seen a lot of difficulty around a family being pushed out onto the street and not having the availability of the shelter sort of lined up with the school day. Obviously, we very much welcome the development that La Colaborativa and the United Way are providing day shelter in the city of Chelsea. But nevertheless, we think that this overflow shelter should be 24/7, in the same way that the shelter in Roxbury has been set up as 24/7.

Siegel: So how do you make that happen? Because it's a little confusing where responsibility rests here. The state has said the call comes down to Secretary of State [William] Galvin. Galvin has said it is the governor's office, Governor Healey's decision. From your understanding, as a state representative representing Cambridge, who should have the authority to make this shelter 24/7? Have you heard from the governor?

Connolly: I've been in direct contact with the governor, you know, for the past two months since this conversation really started around the shelter in East Cambridge. What we had heard was that Secretary Galvin was not interested in authorizing the use of the building here in Cambridge. And, you know, it's been a real visceral situation, to walk down Cambridge Street to see unhoused families, in the cold, wondering where to go. So, as you can imagine, the sense of urgency has really been brewing over the weeks. So as we have collectively, I think, geared up to make our case to Secretary Galvin, it appeared over the weekend, his position shifted. And he pointed the finger back to the governor, so to speak, and said the final decision rests with the governor. So I think right now there's an ongoing conversation around how can we really enable access for those families so that they have multiple options during the day?

Siegel: You mentioned seeing many of these families in Cambridge, many conversations surrounding the politics of situations like this, providing emergency services for migrants, they focus on the politics. But as you mentioned, these are families, unhoused people seeking shelter, asylum, education in the city. I assume you've been to the shelter and met with some of these folks. What can you tell us about the people who are experiencing this situation firsthand?

Connolly: You know, it's really sad to witness because these are young families, like any other young family, in many cases fleeing strife in places like Haiti, you know, coming to the United States, hoping for an opportunity for a better future. And certainly it's been heartbreaking, I think, to see how this story has played out. Here in Cambridge, we are strongly in support of housing. We're strongly in support of welcoming immigrants. I think there's been so much goodwill in our city to make this shelter work. And to see the story play out where it really hasn't worked in the way we've all wanted so hard, and to now have to see other nonprofits have to come in to try to improve the situation, I think has been unfortunate. And so I'm certainly hoping we can work together to harness all of the resources and goodwill in our city to truly make this a success.

Siegel: The state has spent $175,000 on renovations to the courthouse shelter. And you mentioned the daytime services being provided in Chelsea by La Colaborativa. A state grant is also helping fund some of that. These are just two places and a long list of where the Commonwealth is spending big to aid families arriving here on top of the Commonwealth's emergency shelter system, preexisting, which reached capacity. Is this something the state can afford to continue doing? What will eventually happen financially?

Connolly: You know, I think it's certainly challenging. And I think that the set up of the safety net shelter system was an effort to both balance the staggering reality of this ongoing emergency with our commitment to the right to shelter law. I think we can be proud that we do have that right to shelter law. That's the only law of its kind in the nation. And at the same time, I think we have to be smart. You know, the situation in Cambridge has been that for weeks, local officials have been asking the state to really work more closely with us so that we can help deploy all the resources we have locally. And that's been a bit of a struggle. And I think it really is important that we bring everyone to the table and try to make this as successful as possible. You know, I saw an interview with Iván Espinoza-Madrigal from lawyers for Civil Rights last week. I think it was on GBH TV. And, you know, he put it in perspective to say, if you look at the number of families, 7,500, more on the waitlist — and then you look at the size of the Commonwealth, you know, almost 7 million people, we should be able to accommodate this demand. It's really just a matter of working together.

Siegel: That's Massachusetts State Representative Mike Connolly. Thank you so much for your time this morning.

Connolly: Thanks for having me.