Massachusetts Cuts Homeless Housing Hotel Program
Citing an inefficient use of resources, Massachusetts has decided to phase out its program that puts homeless families in hotels and motels if there's no room at a local shelter. It's expected to end by June 2014. The reasons make sense. The lack of kitchens and play spaces for children in most hotels and motels was an issue, as well as the safety risks and liability involved in housing large families in a single room. Regardless of your political stance, the announcement has created an interesting limbo situation for many properties that invested in the program.
The Quality Inn in West Springfield, for example, chose in 2011 to only offer its rooms to people in the transitional housing program. Understandably, they didn’t want to clash clientele and have leisure travelers mixing with homeless families and social workers. Assistant Manager Ron Teji looked at it as a business decision. The program kept the hotel at 70 to 80% occupancy, and it pretty much took all the work out of filling his rooms.
“It was more about the economy,” he said. “You sell all your rooms out; it’s fixed revenue and higher occupancy.”
But with that decision came along a reputation amongst leisure travelers. Teji said that Tripadvisor reviews have had a negative impact on that side of his business, that people were turned off by what they referred to as "corporate welfare."
We found some harsh reviews
, but there were also a few that were humbling:
"Im one of the homeless family that is staying here for now and im gonna lay it down for everyone not all of us are hanging our in the front or trashing the place some of us are working and trying to support our family so when I hear were trashy or taking advantage of welfare it pisses me off im so thankful they have this so my children don't have to sleep in the streets so think and remember what u say and just because there are a few people they may act that way doesn't mean we all are like that."
So, a question for you: Where do you stand? As these hotels begin to transition back to the leisure market, are you game? Would you want to vacation to a hotel that also housed the homeless?