The Department of Health and Human Services will phase out three shelters for migrant children on military bases over the next couple of months, the agency announced Monday. The Fort Hill shelter in Oklahoma will be the first to close on Friday, with shelters in California and Texas set to phase out in the next few weeks.
Over the past year the number of unaccompanied child migrants apprehended at the border has jumped past 57,000, stretching shelter resources thin and forcing the administration to send children to shelters in non-border states, like the Fort Sill facility. But the Department of Health said that the recent drop in the number of detained children, along with expanded arrangements at shelters run by nonprofits, led to the decision to close the temporary shelters, according to The Hill.
Department of Health spokesman Kenneth Wolfe told the Associated Press the cheaper costs are part of the move as well. It cost the department $250 a day to house someone in a traditional shelter, and about three times that amount (the department wouldn't give exact figures) to house someone at a military shelter. Officials told Politico that the Department of Health pays the Department of Defense about $57,000 a month just for water and electricity at one of the military shelters, but that's a small part of the additional costs.
Wolfe also said that the facilities could reopen if the number of children crossing the border spikes again. In recent weeks the number of detained children has dropped from over 2,000 a week to around 500 a week. Administration officials said that border crossings slow down during the summer months.