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State To End Homeless Program Placing Homeless Families in Burlington Hotel

The program places families in Burlington's Homestead Studio Suites.

The state Dept. of Housing and Community Development plans to end a program that places homeless families in hotels, 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.

Locally, families placed in Burlington stay at the Homestead Studio Suites on South Avenue. According to state records, there are currently five families, with seven total children, in the program in Burlington.

The program also places families in hotels in Framingham, Chelmsford, Waltham, 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. 

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