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.