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LETTER: Bennett Says Housing Homeless in Motels 'Inhumane' and 'Fiscally Irresponsible'

Dan Bennett, a Danvers Selectman running against state Rep. Ted Speliotis, says the issue needs a common sense approach.

[Editor's Note: Dan Bennett is running against state Rep. Ted Speliotis for the 13th Essex District seat, which includes Ward 6 and Ward 5 Precinct 2 in Peabody, along with Danvers and about half of Middleton.]

For over three years our motels in Danvers and other communities have been filled with homeless families. There are approximately 1,500 families statewide in motels at an average cost of $75 per night or $3,375,000 per month. This means you, the taxpayers, are spending over $40 million a year on motels well over the average market rate rent in the Boston area.

Not only is this fiscally irresponsible, it is no way to raise a family. Living in one room with no stove to cook meals, no play area other than hallways and parking lots for kids to play, is inhumane.

This is not the first time our town has had an influx of homeless families into our motels. This time it is being blamed on high unemployment rates. Even though the unemployment rate in Massachusetts has dropped from 7.4 percent to 6.3 percent in the last 12 months, the number of homeless families in Danvers has increased. In July 2011 we had 112 families and in June of this year we had 138, in August 187 and now in October 191 families and over 300 kids.

Just hoping this crisis will go away is not the way to approach this crisis. A more common sense approach to homeless families would be to invest in transitional housing and even permanent affordable housing for our residents of limited income. My background in real estate and my public service in affordable housing issues will be beneficial in crafting meaningful legislation to help solve this crisis.

This is an approach that Joan Lovely has also proposed and I will work across the aisle with her to solve this crisis and prevent it from occurring in the future.

Dan Bennett,

Danvers,

Candidate for State Representative

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