, Salem, MA


August 31, 2013

Number of homeless families in hotels jumps

BOSTON (AP) — Despite promises by state officials to cut the number of homeless families being put up in hotels, a last resort when shelters are full, the total has shot up to near-record levels and is on a pace to cost taxpayers nearly $1 million a week.

The state was paying for 1,710 families to stay in motels around the state at $82 per family — or $140,220 per day — as of Thursday.

The number of homeless families in hotels and motels reached a peak of about 1,800 in December. That was down 30 percent by March, three months after state officials promised to phase out the program they said was not cost efficient.

The number has since jumped again.

This month’s jump was more than officials expected, but the goal remains the same, said Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary of Housing and Community Development.

“We’re going to redouble our efforts. ... We’re not changing the goal,” Gornstein said.

State officials announced in January that they planned to stop placing families in hotels, done only when family shelters have no space, as of June 14. Most hotels and motels lack cooking facilities, have no play spaces for children and are not convenient to public transportation.

Homeless advocates say major challenges remain to meet the goal. Federal budget cuts have frozen much-needed funding, and rising rents in and around Boston — combined with a still recovering economy — have hit low-income families the hardest.

Libby Hayes, executive director of Homes and Families, said state rental assistance going to nearly 6,000 families on a two-year basis is set to expire on more than half of them by December.

“I’m nervous to see how it’s going to skyrocket,” she said.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News

Local News
  • Police Peabody Sunday Animal control was called to Morgan Road at 6:23 p.m. on a report of two Labs "running in and out of traffic." The pair was gone by the time officials arrived. Police were called to Cedar Grove Cemetery at 7:57 p.m. on a report of thre

    July 29, 2014

  • 140765_SN_DLE_FESSENDEN4 Special Spaces transforms two downstairs rooms into playroom for Riley Fessenden

    BEVERLY -- What happens when the perfect kid-friendly playroom appears in your house overnight? Beverly's Fessenden kids were mostly speechless when they returned from seeing "The Little Mermaid" on Saturday and got their first look at the playroom t

    July 28, 2014 10 Photos

  • Beverly Hospital courier loses patients’ lab forms

    BEVERLY -- A courier for Beverly Hospital last month lost lab request forms for 54 patients that included names, health insurance identification numbers and, in some cases, Social Security numbers. The courier misplaced the forms, which were in a zip

    July 28, 2014

  • Big plans for three parks in the Point neighborhood SALEM -- One will be overhauled, another created from scratch, and a third will get a spiffed-up community garden. It's a good time to be a park in the Point neighborhood. The densely packed area just south of the city's downtown is on the verge of i

    July 28, 2014

  • Peabody could see school choice profit next year PEABODY -- After three years, the city's schools are projected not only to break even on school choice, but actually make a $30,000 profit. School officials expect to lose just under $300,000 in state aid next year for students who opt to attend scho

    July 28, 2014