Number of Homeless Families in Hotels and Motels Down, State Official Says

State officials say they have relocated homeless families, moving them out of two motels in western Massachusetts. This is part of an effort to end a controversial practice using hotels and motels as overflow emergency housing. But the state has a ways to go to reach its goal of ending the program by next June.

According to the state’s undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein, over 200 families have been moved from two hotels – one in Holyoke, and one in West Springfield to permanent, affordable housing units in the region. But he says his department wants to relocate homeless families from an additional 15 motels and hotels statewide by June 2014.

“We didn’t say it was going to happen all at once. It takes time to work with every family on an individual basis, understand what their needs are, and help them find affordable housing,” says Gornstein. “

Gornstein says an increase in state rental vouchers are helping in the relocation process. He says it costs the state about $3,000 per month to house one family in one motel room, compared to $600 to $800 per month to rent a subsidized apartment. He says he’s hoping the legislature keeps state funding for both rental assistance and homelessness prevention programs around their current levels for the next fiscal year which begins July 1st.