11/14/2013 12:34 pm ET

Putting Homeless People In Hotels Won't Help

Chicago Tribune via Getty Images

LAST JANUARY, state officials promised to stop placing homeless families in hotel and motel rooms.

The program behind that policy is supposed to be eliminated by June 2014. But the number of Massachusetts families living in hotels and motels is increasing, according to the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and the nonprofit Homes for Families, its partner during a recent conference on homelessness.

More than 4,200 Massachusetts families now reside in either state-funded family shelters or in taxpayer-subsidized hotel or motel rooms, a number that “is unprecedented in the state’s 30 years of having a shelter safety net,” said Donna Haig Friedman, director of the school’s Center for Social Policy -- and doubles the tally during the administration of Republican Governor Mitt Romney.

Also, for the first time in state history, half those families — about 2,100 — are living in hotels or motels, Friedman said.