Town welcomes elimination of motel housing for families

Town officials are pleased that the state plans to phase out its emergency shelter program that places homeless families in motels and hotels. Currently, 1,700 families are residing in motels and hotels across the state under the program, which uses those sites when the 2,000 rooms in the state's family emergency shelter system are at capacity. In Danvers, as of a recent count, there were 180 families with 278 children housed in motels, according to Town Manager Wayne P. Marquis. He said the town would welcome the elimination of the program, which the state plans to end by June 30, 2014, noting that it has been hard for Danvers to provide services for the families. He said that includes the expense of transporting children from the hotels and motels to schools in their community of origin. The state had committed to helping subsidize the cost for communities, but Marquis noted Governor Deval Patrick has recently reduced that funding as part of a deficit-reduction move so that Danvers is now expecting to receive only half the $150,000 it had been allotted. He said there are also costs to educate students from the homeless families that attend Danvers schools. Marquis also noted the challenge faced by local charities, including the Danvers People to People Food Pantry, in meeting the needs of the homeless families on top of the permanent Danvers families it serves. “It's just a tremendous effort by our volunteers,’’ he said. Town officials were hoping to hear more details from state officials this past week about the plan to phase out the motel program.