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Week after alleged rape at Rockland emergency shelter, Mass. senators vote for safety checks

The Comfort Inn on Hingham St. in Rockland.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

In the wake of a Haitian migrant’s arrest for allegedly raping a migrant teenager in a Rockland shelter last week, the Massachusetts Senate Thursday adopted an amendment that would require a safety check at state-run emergency shelters.

The amendment, which passed 39-0 Thursday, was adopted onto a more sweeping spending bill that aims to limit shelter stays for migrant and homeless families while funding the strained shelter system through the end of the fiscal year and into 2025.

The amendment would charge a special commission with “reviewing safety practices and procedures at emergency shelters established under the emergency housing assistance program, including hotels and motels used for emergency shelter and overflow emergency shelter sites.”


The provision was not included in a similar bill the House passed earlier this month.

“It’s a huge step in the right direction so we don’t see tragic, violent actions play out,” said state Senator Ryan Fattman, a Sutton Republican.

A shelter housing migrant families in his district caught fire in September, sending one hotel employee to the hospital. The incident happened nearly a week after Fattman raised safety concerns about the building with Governor Maura Healey.

He said he hopes the amendment passed Thursday will not only address safety concerns like the ones he raised last year, but also from violence like the alleged rape of the girl in Rockland.

“As of right now, the standard of doing due diligence at these locations is little to none,” he said. “Now, we are requiring it.”

Samantha J. Gross can be reached at samantha.gross@globe.com. Follow her @samanthajgross.