Inside Stories

Deal Struck – ICC to Become Migrant Shelter After All

Photo courtesy of the UML ICC’s Website.

Three months after InsideLowell first reported that Maura Healey’s Administration was in discussions with UMass Lowell to use the Inn & Conference Center as an emergency migrant shelter, and nearly three weeks after the Governor’s Office called a follow up report about the ICC no longer being in consideration inaccurate, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has reached agreement with the University to use its downtown facility for migrant housing.

The city’s State House delegation and Administration were formally notified of the decision by Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll during a meeting this afternoon. Lowell officials were also informed migrants will begin moving into the facility December 1.

Full details of the agreement have yet to be released, but multiple sources tell us they are similar to the one year agreement the Governor’s Office previously acknowledged was being discussed, with a one year option to renew included.

“The administration recognizes the importance of the UMass Lowell Inn and Conference Center to the City of Lowell and the UMass community, and we are committed to ensuring their long-term success,” said General Scott Rice, Emergency Assistance Director, in a statement. “At the same time, the state faces an unprecedented demand for emergency shelter for families. To meet these needs, the administration and the UMass Building Authority have negotiated a temporary, one-year lease of the ICC to provide homeless families with shelter and social services, and to help support a long-term plan for the ICC that meets the needs of the city and its residents.”

The news is likely to be unpopular with many in the city and its business community. When Healey’s office finally confirmed that negotiations with the University were taking place late September, a number of politicians and organizations penned editorials and letters to the Governor’s office to stress the importance of that venue to downtown.

For their part, Lowell’s three State Representatives responded to the news with varying degrees of concern for the city and the incoming migrants.

“As I outlined in an op-ed several weeks ago, I have serious concerns about losing the Inn and Conference Center,” 18th Middlesex State Representative Rady Mom told InsideLowell. “Following today’s news, the focus now shifts to how the entire Delegation and City can make this a successful partnership with the state and how we can set up families to become high achievers when they are here. This will be a challenge but there is no better city to accept this challenge than Lowell because we are a city of immigrants.”

“We still do not know all the details, but it is important short term to help those in need during this nationwide crisis, while at the same time ensuring that the Inn and Conference Center remains a vital part our downtown economy,” said 16th Middlesex State Representative Rodney Elliott when asked for comment.

“This is a Commonwealth-wide effort to help some of the most vulnerable families in our neighborhoods in stressful situations – the unhoused families, families with children, and pregnant women who are experiencing housing insecurity,” said 17th Middlesex Representative Vanna Howard. “I look forward to reviewing the terms of this contract and may have other questions or concerns. This arrangement represents a flexible partnership between the Commonwealth and our localities, including Lowell.”

One response to “Deal Struck – ICC to Become Migrant Shelter After All”

  1. […] Maura Healey’s Office announced on November 13th that a deal had been struck with UML to lease the facility as an emergency shelter for one year, with a one-year option to renew. At the […]

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