For some families, the right to shelter isn’t a right at all (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by the Boston Globe on November 25, shedding light on the experiences of people navigating homelessness and Massachusetts’ oversaturated emergency shelter system. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Laura Massie is quoted. 


WOBURN — On the same day the state’s emergency shelters hit their capacity limit, a letter slid under Stacey’s door.

The hotel where she’d been living with her 12-year-old daughter and their two dogs since the end of the summer was finally kicking them out. Her savings had run out weeks ago. She owed the hotel $5,333.30.

“You have refused to check out and refused to pay,” the letter read. “YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED TO REMOVE YOURSELF FROM THE … PREMISES IMMEDIATELY.”

Stacey panicked, threw up. She had nowhere to go, so she resolved to go nowhere. She already had been evicted twice in less than two years. What could she do but ride out a third removal, hoping to squeeze out every night of shelter before a court made it official?

“I know my actions right now are scummy,” she said one morning, sitting in the lobby as a hotel worker eyed her disapprovingly. “But I don’t like people thinking I’m a scumbag by nature.”

Two days later, a manager showed up at her door with a police officer. She hadn’t been at the hotel long enough to gain tenant rights. There would be no 30-day notice. Her dark-eyed, curly-haired daughter — a clever, watchful child — was in the room to see her mother dissolve again as the manager issued his edict: They had three days to get out.

Read more at the Boston Globe.