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.