Families in motel shelters need help finding housing

GREENFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Living in a hotel may seem very convenient, but for families with no place else to live, an indefinite stay in a hotel can be a real nightmare. The Rusher family is one of the hundreds of homeless families living in state funded motels in western Massachusetts.

Two adults and a toddler share a queen-sized bed. When they arrived at the Quality Inn in Greenfield last January, they never expected to be here this long.

But Fred Rusher wants more help from the housing authority in their search for permanent housing. “I don’t think that they’re providing the help that we should be receiving. It’s basically we have to do all the footwork ourselves. My wife’s not from this area, so she doesn’t know the area, she doesn’t know where to go around here.”

That footwork is contacting landlords who work with the home-based shelter program. But finding those landlords is a tough task for the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, also.

Franklin County Housing director Robin Sherman told 22News that it’s almost impossible for the agency to have a relationship with every landlord in Franklin County. And employment and even relocation may be a family’s best option in finding permanent housing.

Sherman said, “We will often ask: ‘Do you have any relatives that you can stay with while you’re waiting for housing?’ In some cases, we can use that home-based assistance to help them share an apartment with family or friends.”

Families in the shelter-based program receive $4,000 to help pay for rent, security deposits, and other costs associated with relocating to permanent housing.

The Housing Authority is supposed to check-in once a month on individual families’ apartment searches.


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