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.