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Homeless Housing Costing Mass. Taxpayers Almost $1M Every Week

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB)– Massachusetts is housing thousands of homeless people in hotels and motels, costing taxpayers almost a million dollars per week. This emergency shelter program was supposed to be ending but recent numbers show it’s back up with no signs of stopping.

Department of Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein said, “In July and August we have seen an increase in the number of applications in the number of placements into our emergency shelter system and that’s caused an increase statewide in the use of motels and hotels because our shelter system remains full.”

Summer time and federal sequestration cuts are being blamed for the spike.

With only 451 homeless families in western Massachusetts hotels and motels, this part of the state has actually seen a 19% decrease but taxpayers here still have to pay for the higher numbers out east where the numbers have gone up due to more people and a higher cost of living.

Gornstein goes on, “In addition, families continue to face economic hardship as well. And there are many families who face many disabilities.”

State Senator James Welch told ABC40 that the key to keeping the high cost of homeless housing down is by preventing it in the first place because nobody benefits from this situation.

He says, “It fails the families that we’re placing in hotels, it fails the tax payers because it’s an expensive way of going about placing these families and it really fails the communities.”

Because Massachusetts is a right-to-shelter state, nobody can be turned down that needs the help or housing.

“That’s a good thing but obviously that leads to the situation that we find ourselves in because we cannot turn people away and we cannot turn families away, Welch adds.

The undersecretary said the housing dept was working as hard as they could to bring the numbers down since this wasn’t the best use of taxpayers dollars.

“It’s something that we are concerned about, something we’re obviously taking very seriously,” he expressed.

Because of several initiatives, the Patrick administration says they’ve been able to prevent thousands of families from entering shelters which in turn keeps more people out of hotels and motels.

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.

  • michaelannb

    Sen. Welch is very misinformed, which is surprising, seeing as he’s involved himself in this issue for some time. In fact, I met with one of his aides earlier this year about this very issue.

    60% of all families that apply for shelter are turned away– these are figures straight from DHCD. For example, you are ineligible for shelter if you have been in a shelter in the past year. You are ineligible for shelter if you are more than 115% above the poverty level. You are ineligible for shelter if you’ve never had your own apartment and the person you’ve been living with kicks you out or moves out of state and gives up the apartment. I could go on and on. Sorry, Channel 40, just because a politician says something doesn’t make it true– do some research.

    Otherwise, commenters are right to point out the nonsensical way services are delivered. I know there isn’t a lot of sympathy out there for homeless families, but just in a fiscal sense, turning the majority of the sheltering program into a subsidy makes more sense.at $100 a day, 6 days’ worth of a motel payment could equal two/thirds of the rent of a two bedroom apartment paid in the form of a subsidy. (yes, two bedroom apartments really are running at about $900.)

  • Toxicrandy

    Minerva how about you put on your cheerleader outfit and protest the biggest welfare recipient of all. The US government. You sound like a real B and have the empathy of a tick.

  • Toxicrandy

    You know why the government does little to nothing when it comes to welfare reform? Because to them it is NOTHING compared to the billions they spend (Secret inteligence budget of 54 billion) on everything else. I bet they love it when the geniuses bad mouthing the poor focus on Carmen, LeTanya, or Becky’s ebt spending habits and not the BILLIONS wasted on countless other Government projects. I mean we have the idiotic Minelva spewing her venom against the poor but you don’t see her holding a sign outside of NASA for spending billions to send toy robots to mars hahahaha