Homeless hotels impact on emergency services

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The state is approaching its self-imposed deadline of June of this year to get all homeless families out of hotels and into permanent housing.

Now, the 22News I-Team dug deeper into the issue and discovers how it’s putting a strain on local resources.

Homeless families taking shelter in hotels is something the state of Massachusetts has been trying to do away with. That’s because it costs $3,000 per family a month to keep them there.

There are 2,088 families; that’s about $75,384,000 million dollars the state pays a year. However, the I-Team discovered it’s not just hotel costs we have to pay, there’s also a local cost.

“We’ve been there about 100 times in the last year and probably about 40 times in the last 6 months,” said Ron Campurciani, Police Chief at the West Springfield Police Department.

Watch the video below for the full report:

The I-Team requested information from police departments in different communities and found they’re getting called to the hotels a lot.

For example, there are 215 families living in hotels in Chicopee and police there have responded to 263 police calls. That’s an average of at least 1 call per family.

In Holyoke there are 123 families and police have responded 279 times in the last year, that’s an average of more than 2 police calls for each family.

There are 36 families living in Greenfield and police reported getting 142 calls there. That’s between 3 and 4 calls per family.

The 22News I-Team talked to one woman who lives in a Holyoke hotel who explained she and her neighbors mostly call police when their kids get sick.

“(They’re calling police for the flu) yes, they say that the kids themselves are feeling sick, with the flu or stomach virus and stuff like that,” said Holyoke’s Zeashya Butterfliye.

Police say they encourage people to call when they need help, but the truth of the matter is, when call volume is so heavy, it takes away from something else.

“When we have to respond to this, things get taken away so maybe we’re not doing the traffic enforcement like we used to, maybe the community substation isn’t getting the attention it used to, something has to give,” Campurciani said.

We can’t say for sure that the calls are only for homeless families and not hotel guests but in West Springfield the number of homeless families have fluctuated drastically over the years and according to the police chief, so have the calls.

“Again they’ve come back and again the calls are increasing again, they’re starting to creep up again.”

The 22News I-Team released our findings to Aaron Gornstein the Undersecretary of the State’s Housing and Community Development who says they’re working on the problem.

“It’s something we’re sensitive about, we’re on top of everyday and it’s also a reason why we want to move families out of motels,” Gornstein said.

The 22News I-Team has covered this issue extensively and will continue to do so.

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