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Homeless Transitioned out of Local Hotels

Homeless HotelHOLYOKE, Mass. (WGGB) — For several years, the state has housed thousands of homeless in hotels and motels, costing taxpayers millions.

Today, a major announcement from the state’s Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development – the program is coming to an end.

Homeless families here in the Paper City and across the area are being transitioned out of hotels and into rental properties.

“We’ve had a 51% reduction in the numbers since July and so we’re seeing great gains and we want to continue that momentum because it’s much better for families to be in permanent affordable housing in the communities,” said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development.

The program was first put in place to deal with overflow from homeless shelters.

At the time, housing the 1,800 families in hotels and motels across the bay state was seen as a stop-gap measure, not a permanent fix – especially when you factor in costs.

“We’re spending $3,000 a month in a motel we could be providing affordable housing for $600 to $800 a month,” explained Gornstein. “ It makes so much more sense for the taxpayers and it’s much better for the families.”

That’s something you don’t have to tell Renee Laflem – whose lived in a hotel for more than a year.

“ It’s one room. No real refrigerator, little dinky things, no stoves to cook on, microwave eating and it’s not healthy.”

So far all 60 families from the Holyoke Days Inn and all 150 families from the West Springfield Quality Inn have been successfully moved into rentals.

But despite the dramatic reduction of families housed in hotels… hundreds remain – like those at the Holyoke Hotel. Still, the goal is to have everyone out statewide by June 2014.

Officials also want to make sure they stay out and independent by applying part of the savings back into a safety net.

“I think a percentage of the money saved should be put towards programs to keep these people self-sufficient,” said State Representative Aaron Vega.

Right now some 1,200 families here in Massachusetts still live in hotels around the state.

More than 250 here in Western Mass alone.

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WGGB encourages readers to share their thoughts and engage in healthy dialogue about the issues. Comments containing personal attacks, profanity, offensive language or advertising will be removed. Please use the report comment function for any posts you feel should be reviewed. Thank you.
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