The Associated Press

Mass. To Stop Housing Homeless Families In Hotels

BOSTON — Massachusetts intends to phase out a program that places homeless families in hotels and motels at taxpayer expense when there’s is no room in emergency shelters, according to a top official with the state Department of Housing and Community Development.

The state spent $45 million during the fiscal year that ended last June putting hundreds of families in hotels for months, and in some cases, longer than a year.

Homeless families are placed in hotels when the 2,000 rooms in the state’s family emergency shelter system reach capacity. There were 1,700 families in hotels last month. The number of families placed in hotels has increased in recent years during the recession and foreclosure crisis.

“The motels have no cooking facilities. There is no play space. It is difficult in terms of transportation, child care,” Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development, told The Boston Globe. Eliminating the motel system, he said, “is better for the families and it is better for the taxpayers.”

The state plans to phase out the program by June 2014, and will instead increase homeless prevention and expand affordable housing options, he said.

Housing and homeless advocates agree that the motel system is not ideal, but worry that the state will not be able to provide the resources to eliminate the need for motels.

“A lot of children with their parents have nowhere else to go,” said Robyn Frost, executive director of the Lynn-based Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless. She said extremely low-income families need more long-term rental housing vouchers to avoid homelessness.

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  • jonshore

    Aaron Gornstein has been in the job only a year, and I read he has previously worked on affordable housing and community development initiatives and and served on numerous local and national advisory boards and commissions. What is missing from this story is what Aaron Gornstein plan to do with 1,700 families without homes? Does he think they are living without “cooking facilities or play spaces” because they want to!

    As a Massachusetts taxpayer I want to know what is his plan? Move them to the local school gym or church recreation hall? Perhaps we can move them into the unoccupied military housing in Massachusetts. Or acquire the portable trailers that are no longer needed after Katrina! We can put them in those communities that didn’t want a casino! These people are homeless and, just guessing, probably don’t have a car. So these communities shouldn’t have traffic concerns! These idea’s are just as crazy as Mr. Gornstein’s. So please ask him what his “innovative, newer, better, and creative” plan is to solve this homeless problem and make sure no one falls through the cracks. It’s one thing to sit on a board or committee and discuss the homeless. It’s another thing to “phase out” and put 1,700 families, or even 1 family in the street with no place to go.

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