AYER — The town said that communication and advanced notice were lacking in the plans made by the state and a Fitchburg nonprofit to house 35 migrant families in a local hotel. The move was a direct result of the state of emergency declared by Gov. Maura Healey to assist in the migrant influx.
“Information coming from the state to the town of Ayer has been non-existent to date,” said an official public notice released Tuesday.
Regardless, the town is preparing to accept the migrant families and doing what’s needed to ensure that town services are provided, such as public education.
“These preparations include planning by the Ayer Shirley Regional School District with respect to enrolling students in accordance with the State’s “Right to Shelter” law,” said the official release.
The town was informed on Friday, Sept. 8 that roughly 150 people will be housed in an Ayer hotel as part of the “Right to Shelter” law and Fitchburg-based nonprofit Making Opportunity Count (MOC) will be running the shelter in partnership with the state.
“The state’s policy is to place these families in motels in cities and towns through the state without the need for local approval and in many instances, without prior notice,” the statement read. “Information coming from the State to the Town of Ayer has been non-existent to date.”
Since being informed of this, the town’s social worker, Brittany Beaudry, has been on the ground trying to gather information for the town departments from MOC and the motel, which isn’t identified in the notice. The town has also reached out to state Sen. Jamie Eldridge so he can pass along the town’s concerns with the lack of communication.
“The Town of Ayer is preparing to comply with the state’s decision by meeting with MOC and the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities in the next several days to coordinate logistics and open lines of communication.”
The town will be turning to Gov. Healey, their state legislative delegation as well as their legislative delegation in Washington to seek funding assistance to support the 150 new residents with town services.
“The Town will be seeking state and federal support to provide the additional town resources needed to address impacts at the school level and deliver appropriate levels of public safety resources.”
Making Opportunity Count
Making Opportunity Count, located on River Street in Fitchburg, was established in 1966 for the primary purpose of promoting the well-being of low-income people in the cities and towns of North Central Massachusetts.
MOC works to fulfill this purpose by providing direct services, collaborating with other public and private entities and by applying comprehensive strategies that help to address the complex issues of poverty. And their services branch out significantly in order to achieve that goal.
They were among the organizations that praised the creation of the new 988 mental health hotline because it provides the nonprofit with another tool.
“When we are working with our clients and talking about things like safety concerns and risk factors, this is another resource that we can give them,” Andrew Stephens, the director of clinical operations at the Counseling Center at MOC, said back in July.
For a full list of programs and services, visit www.mocinc.org.
Lowell Sun Reporter Peter Currier contributed to this article.