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Matt Elder Responds to Hotel Shelter Crisis, Offers Solutions

MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough City Councilor and candidate for State Representative Matt Elder responded to a shocking news story on Fox 25 News which revealed a systemic breakdown of state aid programs that led to a sex offender being housed at a Marlborough hotel paid for with taxpayer dollars.

 

“Providing assistance for those who truly need it is paramount to any public official,” Elder said. “However, basic safeguards need to be put in place to assure assistance goes to those most in need, while keeping them safe from sexual predators.”

 

The report revealed that Massachusetts accepts hundreds of out of state residents to be homed here, costing the commonwealth nearly $8M a year. Elder objected to commonwealth shelters being filled with out-of-state residents, including those in this country illegally, while citizens who’ve lived here their whole lives here are left living in hotels.

 

“We need to provide shelter space to Massachusetts residents first, and make sure those residents don’t cause an unsafe situation for those around them,” Elder said. “The fact that a level 3 sex offender from New York was given tax dollars to live at a hotel is not only unimaginable, it’s just plain unacceptable.”

 

An additional $12 Million is currently in the process of being approved by the state legislature in a supplemental budget.

 

“All we are doing is throwing money at the problem and hope it fixes itself. My opponent has been a State Representative four of the past six years, and it that time she’s offered no solutions to these problems.  All she ever wants to do is spend, spend, spend.” Elder said. “We will spend over $50M this year housing people in hotels. Does anyone think this is an effective use of taxpayer money? I doubt it,” Elder said.

 

Elder, unlike his opponent, has listed a several possible solutions to help with the homelessness problem including:

 

·         Make sure those getting public assistance are residents of Massachusetts. Currently, all you need is a state-issued ID, so anyone can come here from anywhere in the country, pay  a small fee, and get public assistance.

·         Regionalize state resources to help get to the root of people’s financials problems. Not everyone’s situation is the same and we need to understand how they got into the financial difficulties and the most cost effective way to help them.

·         Have state officials work with local officials to find a solution before putting families in hotels. Many municipalities have civic organizations, religious groups and various local non-profits who could reach out to families before we put them into a hotel.

·         Allocate tax dollars in other ways than long-term lodging at a hotel. There are much better uses for $50M other than throwing it at hotels for long-term occupancy, including working with local technical schools to build or improve current shelters, hiring local staff (as listed above) to help work with families, and working with property owners to find apartment or multi-family living situations.

·         Require volunteer work for those who are able. Those who have access to a car and are receiving any public benefits should be required to volunteer a certain number of hours each month. Benefits include helping the recipients network helping lead to job opportunities.

 

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Susan Magario February 25, 2014 at 04:33 PM
There are many homeless families who work or have other means of support. The issue is finding homes or apartments that will house families. Shelters are not the answer. Affordable housing is the long term solution. Ever since rent controls were lifted, the problems have escalated. It is too late, I know, to turn back the clock on that matter. I have found a great discrimination towards families. We have always heard the "children are our future" but we don't care that they are living in substandard conditions; crammed like sardines or prisoners in hotel rooms. We need to serve them, not punish them for what has happened to them.
Barb Nahoumi February 26, 2014 at 07:49 AM
There are so many abandoned or foreclosed properties around the commonwealth, which can be rehabed for use again. Put the ablebodied unemployed to work, bringing these dwellings back up to code. Have families live in these homes, rather than hotels. They will have kitchens, which hotels do not. This was a major complaint, expressed by some who were housed in Marlboro hotels. Clients cared for by Massachusetts, must show proof of residence, by producing rent or mortgage receipts, utility bills, etc.
Kim March 01, 2014 at 09:59 AM
Great, common-sense solutions, Matt. I think we can all agree that the taxpayers of Massachusetts cannot afford to house the homeless families of the entire east coast! A great start would be to make sure that we are helping Massachusetts families. This crisis will continue to grow every year unless and until our legislature recognizes that they are creating a magnet State for the Country. Right now, we're paying for people up and down the east coast. In five years, it will be the eastern half of the Country.
JM March 04, 2014 at 07:07 AM
Massachusetts is the only “right to shelter” state in the country. Who's bright idea was this? Like every other entitlement program in Massachusetts, this policy is being abused by people that have never lived here, are sex offenders, or otherwise actually have the means to work and support themselves but choose not to. This policy is being abused because procedures are not in place to do background checks, do residency verification, or obtain tax info from the IRS, which would indicate the person is or was employed. But hey, if they're putting illegals in hotels, why not put up the entire East Coast? Deval will just raise the gas tax again to cover the cost.

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