GREENFIELD — Record numbers of homeless families are overwhelming the state’s emergency shelter system, filling motel rooms at the cost to taxpayers of tens of millions of dollars a year.
An average of nearly 2,100 families a night — an all-time high — were temporarily housed in motel rooms in October, just about equaling the number of families in emergency shelters across the state, according to be the state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development.
The demand for shelter is so great that the state has been temporarily sending homeless families from Boston to motels in Western Massachusetts, although state officials said many have been relocated back again, closer to home.
Aaron Gornstein, the undersecretary for housing, said the surge has followed cuts in state and federal housing subsidies, soaring rents in Greater Boston, and still-high rates of unemployment and underemployment, particularly among lower-income workers.
“The state as a whole has recovered from the Great Recession faster than most other states, but in many ways we’re still struggling,” Gornstein said. “Federal budget cuts have made the situation worse.”
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