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State To End Homeless Program Placing Homeless Families in Waltham Hotels

The program places families in two Waltham hotels.

The state Dept. of Housing and Community Development plans to end a program that places homeless families in hotels, including two in Waltham, according to the Boston Globe.

The program, which started during the 1980s, would end by June 30, 2014.

With the closing, the state plans to bolster efforts to find permanent housing and prevent homelessness, according to the Globe. However, housing advocates fear permanent housing for program participants may never be found, according to the Globe.

The decision comes as the economic downturn stretched the program to its 2,000 hotel room limit, according to the Globe. 

Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary for DHCD, told the Globe the program is not an "efficient" use of taxpayer money.

While the program gives needy families shelter, it leaves them without places for their children to play or to cook a meal, and burdens taxpayers with a hefty bill, according to the Globe. The program costs state taxpayers $45 million annually.

Seperately, Waltham city  

Specifically, families placed in Waltham stay at the Home Suites Inn on Totten Pond Road and Homestead Studio Suites on Fourth Avenue. In December 2011, Waltham Patch reported 94 families, including 73 children, were staying in the two hotels.

The program also places families in hotels in Framingham, Chelmsford, Burlington, Bedford, Danvers, Malden, Marlborough, Natick, Northborough, Tewksbury, Woburn and Framingham, according to the Massachusetts State Auditor's Office. 

Originally, the program was meant as temporary shelter for families, but some have stayed more than a year, according to the Globe.

Despite the plans to end the prorgram, housing advocates believe some families may no have no place to go when they lose their hotel rooms, according to the Globe. Several months ago, the state tightened requirements for emergency shelter which some housing advocates say will result in families living in their cars, the Globe reported.  

The state is already working on help for impacted families, planning to make  1,000 “supportive” housing units available for families, according to the Globe. Also, last year the state created a program to provide eligible families financial assitance to avoid becoming homeless or find new and permanent housing, according to the Globe. 

The move comes as the number of families in hotels statewide has jumped recently. In December 2010, 771 families were in hotels rooms. By December 2012, around 1,700 families were in hotels. 

Mk10 January 03, 2013 at 01:09 PM
Finally! I would hate to spend $50,000 to send my kid to Bentley or Brandeis and stay at one if these hotels for graduation, only find that it is infested with screaming kids in the halls and women who treat the hotel like a college dorm, staying up all hours and talking in the hallways. The "shelter system" was supposed to be used as an emergency situation not as an extended vacation. If they have been there for a year than they are not trying very hard to get their own housing. It time to end the mooching!
Catch Wity January 03, 2013 at 01:52 PM
It's about time, now all the have to do is burn all the mattresses & sheets, paint every room, replace every carpet, replace everything that was stolen, if anyone finds out when moving day is please keep me posted cause I'd like to grab my beach chair, cooler & go watch the festivities, oh wait I'll Prob be at my Job, working to support my family!!!
Angela Lordi January 03, 2013 at 03:52 PM
A 27 year-old woman, formerly abused by her husband is now homeless. Without housing she cannot access any of the services offered by the state because she has no mailing address, no transportation, and no stable location where social workers can find her. With no other options, the state puts her into a hotel. Not ideal but it's shelter. The better solution, which the Patrick administration is advancing, is based on a concept called "Housing First" in which the family is placed into a real apartment, regardless of how much she can contribute to the rent. Less expensive to the taxpayer than a hotel, easier to get services to the family, reduces cost of emergency services (as proved in pilot studies all over the country). Better solution. As for the previous comments, I would say you know very little about the circumstances that lead to homelessness, and you are certainly not contributing anything meaningful toward solving the problem.
Alice H January 03, 2013 at 04:00 PM
Schadenfreude is alive and well in Waltham. So nice to see people being compassionate about the homeless. WWJD?
Kristine Conti Fusco January 03, 2013 at 04:04 PM
A few years ago, the state closed down a family shelter which was housed in one of the vacant buildings over at the Fernald School. For the amount of money that they dumped into paying for the homeless families' hotel room, they could've brought a few of the numerous vacant Fernald School buildings up to code. The state is never concerned about tomorrow, only worried about today. It's a fiscally stupid way to run any type of program.
Robert Norwood January 03, 2013 at 04:10 PM
This has been an insult to taxpayers ever since it was launched. While it has helped a few people in a pinch it's mainly become part of the dependency "career". For certain kinds of individuals this kind of living is just fine - even though they do complain, after all, they're paid, fed, and housed to do what they do best - nothing.
Catch Wity January 03, 2013 at 04:42 PM
Do the math on this, lets say a room up there is $99 witch I'm sure is low, multiply that # by 1700, then multiply that by 365 what do you get? $61,429,500 of the tax payers $ just gone, awesome!!!!! Never mind Gun reform, we need tax spending reform!!!!
TheHam January 03, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Seems the best solution is for her to apply for a job, not continuing to apply for government handouts, but what do I know? I just work hard for myself and family.
Mk10 January 03, 2013 at 07:20 PM
Funny how she can't access any of the services the state offers EXCEPT getting her SSI check and WIC cards, but they don't know where to find these people after they are homeless. Don't get me wrong, there are families who need help when they are down, but you have to work to get back up, not expect the state to take care of you. I have seen the abuse of this program first hand and think that Waltham schools, emergency services and infrastructure are being abused. Sandra's Lodge, when it existed, on the Fernald property was a good place that was state owned to house the shelters. The cost of putting them in hotels far outweighs the benefits of this program.
Mk10 January 03, 2013 at 07:22 PM
Much of these people are not from Waltham. They are from Boston, Brockton, or some other town. They are brought here because of the hotels and it is hurting the city.
moe howard January 03, 2013 at 11:43 PM
Bye bye EBTers
TheHam January 04, 2013 at 12:13 AM
Jesus, the all knowing, would probably say shame on all those people abusing your system and making it harder for people in need. He probably wouldn't tell us to give our hard earned money to support a system riddled with fraud and would most likely look down on those who do.
Walthamguy January 04, 2013 at 05:20 AM
Indeed some may have legitimate needs but the abuse is rampant! Ever notice the quality of some of the cars in the parking lot?
RealityChick January 04, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Does anyone really think they are going to put these people on the street? Are you all willing to look at children in the streets, digging through trash? Lets be realistic.We all know that there are people in society who will never fully engage. So, the options seem to be let the next generation believe this is a great way to go (give them everything everyone else has) or show them a different direction. It has to be more cost effective for all the other services to locate 93 families in the same building (social workers, head start etc.) They are living in hotel rooms, remember, not 1800 square foot apartments (which is what they will get if the outcry to move them out of hotels is large enough) They are also watched by the program people coming in and the "hotel" staff. They have curfews and cannot leave for more than a day without permission. As far as the kids having play space, do you guys really see the vast majority of welfare recipients bringing their kids to the park? Or see the EBT cards being used for fresh fruits and vegies and chicken to be cooked in an oven? Lets stop kidding ourselves. The best thing we can do is to try to teach the next generation that they can't have what a working stiff has, unless they, too, are working stiffs. If they don't want to work, well, they can have a 500 ft room, a curfew and people watching you 24/7.
Maddie Chambers January 06, 2013 at 09:39 PM
I used to live in one of the shelters on the Fernald School grounds called Olivia's Place and I know what it means to be without a home and scraping to make ends meet and having to rely on others when in a desperate situation. I understand there is fraud in the system and the "moochers" that take advantage, but for you people to outwardly stereotype all homeless people as such is disgraceful and you should be ashamed of yourselves. "It hurts the city"? No. You people that don't understand and wrongly accuse all hurt the character of the city. How about you go volunteer somewhere and experience what it is to be homeless. I understand the government needs to be improved, I personally agree with opinions being said that that money should be spent keeping the Fernald shelters open and even opening more than there were on the grounds in order to house those people in the hotels, but you can't just point a finger, or complain. Do something about it, become involved, email your state senate representive your opinions and ideas, they do listen, and learn not to collectively stereotype a group of human beings.
Alice H January 07, 2013 at 04:45 PM
I agree, Maddie. I am often embarrassed at the heartless comments in response to Patch articles and how awful this makes Waltham look.

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