CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Hundreds of homeless families are being housed in hotels across the state because there’s no more room left in emergency shelters.
Now, the governor has declared a state of emergency because the need is so high. 22News I-Team reporter Taylor Knight looks into how much taxpayer money is being used to support homeless families and migrants.
Massachusetts is a right-to-shelter state so the government is obligated to provide care for homeless families. The need for shelter right now is outpacing the resources that are available.
John Langone has been trying to get emergency housing for himself and his wife after months of trying he’s finally on a waitlist.
“I keep calling and asking for help, but my phone is not ringing,” said Langone. “They said it’s just so busy. God only knows when I’m going to get a phone call or any help, and the way my health is going, I need it now or yesterday. I really need the help.”
A housing crisis in Massachusetts is being caused by two factors according to the Department of Housing and Community Development. One, rising housing costs, and two, more people coming to the state looking for emergency shelter.
“There’s simply not enough affordable housing,” explained state Senator John Velis. “And then, you’ve got an immigration crisis in American as well. The confluence of those factors are, what I would argue, directly responsible for what we’re seeing in Massachusetts which is an influx, which is an increased number of people in homeless shelters, and an increased number of people in hotels.”
In April, there were 867 families in hotels and now that number has shot up to 1,737. In all about 5,600 families are in state-funded emergency shelters. With the state spending $45 million every month on this housing crisis, that works out to $8,000 per family per month.
The fiscal 2024 budget includes $325 million for families seeking shelter, but at $45 million a month, that will only last until about January.
A spokesperson for the Office of Housing and Livable Communities told the 22News I-Team that the state is working to increase shelter capacity and help more families find stable housing.
So far in western Massachusetts, the 22News I-Team has learned that homeless families are in hotels in West Springfield, Chicopee, and Greenfield.