The number of Bay State homeless families living in hotels and motels has shot back up to near-record levels on pace to cost taxpayers nearly $1 million a week — making the state’s goal of cutting the controversial emergency shelter program by next summer look like a pipe dream, housing advocates say.
As of yesterday, the state was putting up 1,710 families in motels around the state at $82 per family — a cost of $140,220 per day.
It marks a sudden spike from a daily caseload that was already trending up from 1,251 families in March to 1,369 in July, according to the Department of Housing and Community Development.
“People are basically frightened,” said John J. Drew, president and CEO of the community agency Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD).
“They’re sitting in a hotel or motel with a hot plate, no transportation and looking around and saying, ‘Where do we go from here?’ ... There’s no exit strategy to empty the hotels and motels. I wish I can say I’m hopeful but I don’t see it.”
Aaron Gornstein, undersecretary of Housing and Community Development, said the March figures marked a 30 percent drop from an all-time peak of 1,800 families in December.
But this month’s jump was more than officials expected from its usual summer-time swell as they aim to completely phase out the program by June.
“We’re going to redouble our efforts. ... We’re not changing the goal,” Gornstein said, noting one rental assistance program started last year helped 3,000 families stay off the streets.
He said the hotel program is “not the most cost effective use of taxpayer dollars,” nor is it the best option for families.
“We’re doing everything we possibly can to bring that number back down,” he said.