Number of Homeless Families In Danvers Motels Slightly Decreases
Since August there has been a steady, slight decrease in homeless families living in Danvers motels.
Danvers has seen a "modest decrease" in the number of homeless families living among the four state-contracted motels in towns.
As of September 6 there were 132 homeless families spread between the Days Inn, Extended Stay Inn, Motel 6, and the Knights Inn. On August 2, the homeless numbers had spiked to 147 families. Since that time there has been a decrease by about two or three families each week.
The implementation of the new "Home Base" program created by North Shore Community Action Program (NASCAP) in conjunction with the Lynn Housing Authority has been one reason for the decrease, said Town Manager Wayne Marquis."We hope to see that trend continue," he said.
When "Home Base" presented its plan at the special Board of Selectmen meeting on August 23, they said the ultimate goal is to empty the motels in Danvers over a period of 12 months.
The program, funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), officially rolled out on the first of July. The program will allow NASCAP to move people from motels into permanent affordable housing.
Representative Speliotis Testifies At Department of Housing & Community Development Hearing
On September 12 State Representative Ted Speliotis spoke about the impact of the state motel-homeless policy, describing the Home Base program as "extremely aggressive and bold initiative."
In his testimony he said; "My understanding is that in forty-eight states in our nation, once shelter beds are filled, homeless families are placed on a waiting list. Although the state’s program is intended to assist Massachusetts families during the worst economic conditions of our lifetimes, more and more families are arriving from out of state in the morning and being granted a fully paid Massachusetts hotel room that evening. I fear, for this reason, Massachusetts is once again gaining a national reputation as a “friendly welfare state."
Speliotis proposed implementing a six month residency requirement, as well as adopting a sunset provision discontinuing the acceptance of additional families to this program once the state’s unemployment level reaches 6.5 percent, unless a family has been displaced due to a fire or domestic abuse.
At the hearing Speliotis praised the town of Danvers for their efforts in addressing the needs of the children living in the motels.
Project Sunshine Continues To Receive Gift Funding
The six-week program created by the town for the homeless motel children is still accepting donations to help meet the approximate $25-28,000 budget.
Recent donations have included $1000 from Salem Five Bank, $800 from the Danvers Diversity Committee, $550 from the Danvers Kiwanis, a $400 anonymous contribution from a Beverly resident, as well as several other donations from residents and local businesses.
Other donations have included day trips for the program to Devereux Beach in Marblehead, Lynch Park in Beverly, as well as free towels, backpacks, and other supplies for the program.
Marquis said as of now they have approximately $24,000 of the costs covered.
Since the start of the new school year, Superintendent Lisa Dana said the town currently is providing education services in town for 62 children who fall under the homeless law. Today, 21 children are being transported to other Massachusetts towns and cities. The transportation costs are still being processed.
Dana noted that the numbers of homeless students the town provides for varies from day-to-day.