Program That Shelters Homeless Families in Hotels Will Remain in Place

Gov. Deval Patrick included the homelessness program in his proposed budget. The program is expected to cost Danvers Public Schools $250,000 in transportation costs this year.

Extended Stay America is one of the Danvers hotels that houses families who are homeless. Photo credit: Patch file photo.
Extended Stay America is one of the Danvers hotels that houses families who are homeless. Photo credit: Patch file photo.

The issue of housing homeless families in hotels and motels doesn’t appear to be going away.

Danvers and local state officials hoped the state would begin phasing out using hotels and motels for emergency shelter, but the program remains in place in Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed budget, according to The Boston Globe.

The program has become a lightning rod for controversy with homeless advocates hoping for better accommodations for families rather than hotel rooms and communities like Danvers hoping the state would find better ways to house those without homes. 

It's even on the national radar as The Wall Street Journal wrote about the issue and included Danvers as one community that is being affected.

Danvers Public Schools will spend $250,000 in transportation costs this school year and Patrick’s budget proposes reimbursing towns for 70% of the transportation costs. Out of the nearly 2,100 homeless families living in hotels and motels, 178 families live in Danvers, reported the Globe.

The strain isn’t only on the schools’ transportation costs. There is also a ripple effect on organizations in town that help those in need, including the Danvers Community Council that recently received a $20,000 grant for its People-to-People Food Pantry to help with the influx of homeless families in Danvers.

Sen. Joan Lovely and Rep. Ted Speliotis are hoping the commonwealth can work to end the program or at least reduce it. Lovely wants to pass bills that would require a residency requirement so homeless people from other communities won’t flock to Danvers, as well as hoping to pass legislation that would reimburse Danvers for lost hotel and motel tax revenue, reported the Gloucester Times.

Speliotis said the program brings homeless people from across the state to Danvers’ hotels. “Word gets around. People migrate here, and it really is wrong. The intention of the program is to help people in our state,” Speliotis told the Gloucester Times in January.

But there is reason for some optimism. Patrick’s budget includes $167 million to restore and repair 900 to 1,000 affordable housing units across the state that would serve as emergency housing, reported the Globe.

Chaz McMichael February 05, 2014 at 11:11 AM
Some suggestions for Danvers to do. 1. Zoning - These motels are zoned for commercial not residential use. Create a special property tax classification (very high) for long term commerical hotels. You can adjust it so that it focuses on cost causing hotels only. 2. Note and inspect for all fire code and building violations weekly. Close motels down with more than one violation. 3. Social media - everyone and I mean everyone needs to be doing multiple postings on TripAdvisor, Frommers, Yelp, AAA etc anywhere that these hotels have reviews. Give any motel in town that houses this program a "1" star and describe the living conditions. Watch the sales of their other rooms go to zero. If they continue, expand the reviews to their other properties. 4. Require annual safety inspections by Danvers Board of Health. Charge a fee of $10K which must be paid by motel owner. 5. Like airlines and hotels, Danvers should charge a fee to the hotel owner for transportation of students to school. $1,000 per student. EconoLodge doesn't want to pay it? Shut them down. 6. Impose an extra "water usage fee" on the motels for excessive usage. 7. Purchase and Power adjustment for electricity should go up for these places. To like $50K per month. 8. Give them a liquor license, watch underage teens buy liquor, then shut them down. Bottom line...go after the property owners not the State. Think like a business person. It will take care of itself.
George Washington February 05, 2014 at 01:10 PM
I agree with everything Chaz said in the previous post. Danvers can do without this nonsense. It's hurting more than it's helping. Currently in the Massachusetts House of Reps there are 127 elected Democrats to only 30 elected Republicans. In the Massachusetts Senate, there are 36 elected Democrats to a mere 4 elected Republicans. For a grand total of 157 Democrats to only 34 Republicans. Not to mention the two U.S. Senators from Massachusetts who are suppost to "represent" the entire commonwealth are both Democrats who are about as far left as they come. As well as an extremely Democratic Governor and Attorney General which certainly doesn't help balance things out at all. I'm sure if you asked the average citizen in the Bay State about these numbers they would have no idea whatsoever. What we lack here is balance. We lack overall representation of the 6.6 million people residing in this state. This housing situation, as well as the liqour licenses and pot dispensary ideas, are something the Town of Danvers can certainly survive without in my humble, balanced opinion...
Keith Lucy February 05, 2014 at 02:02 PM
and where is the Board of Selectmen on this??? Following, instead of leading... absolute joke.
Kathleen February 11, 2014 at 10:01 AM
This whole program should be shuttered. It is a disgrace and has done nothing to end homelessness in MA. Prior to Danvers footing the bill, Peabody did. For years the homeless were housed in motels on Route One like the former Carriage House and the Peabody schools faced the same issues that Danvers is now facing. Total strain on the school and police budgets. The problem has simply moved up Route One and the state has done nothing to alleviate it. Currently the number of homeless people living in hotels in MA is at an all time high. According to state records from Dec. 2013, the number of homeless people in hotels grew from an all-time high of 2,116 in early November to a new record of 2,146 statewide. Almost 500 of these people are living in hotels in the western part of the state in towns like Chicopee, Greenfield, Holyoke, Springfield, etc. Cape Cod also has its share...The first step is to institute a residency requirement to get rid of the people that are literally flocking here from out of state. Better yet, get rid of the whole emergency housing bill. We are the only state in the country that has one...I agree with both Chaz and George. More balance is needed and more responsibility should be placed on property owners who are making a mint off of this situation. This state has become a welfare state due to its inept, bleeding heart liberal leadership. Time for change!
John February 11, 2014 at 11:25 AM
I'm pleading with all the Independents and any Democrats out there who have critical thinking skills to PLEASE reevaluate the voting patterns of this state before Massachusetts becomes a third-world hell hole. I believe many in this state have just about had it with all the "progressive," mismanaged policies and programs over the years that take money from honest, tax-paying, legal citizens who (foolishly) play by the rules and hands it over -- no questions asked -- to criminals, illegals, and other assorted layabouts. It's up to US to stop the insanity.


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