Living in hotels is no vacation
Recorder/David Rainville Maritza Velazquez, of Lynn, her five children, and her husband (not pictured) are among dozens of homeless families recently relocated by the state to Greenfield hotels while they seek permanent homes. The Velazquezes are staying at the Quality Inn, while many others are at the Days Inn.
GREENFIELD — Maritza Velazquez, her husband, and their five children found themselves homeless after spending the last two years in an apartment they got through the state’s Home Base program.
“They told us they cut the funding for the program, sent us here,” said Velazquez as she waited for her oldest two children to get off the school bus at the Quality Inn on the Mohawk Trail.
It was their first day back in school, though the family has been living at the motel for two weeks.
“Nobody told me how to get them enrolled,” she said. “I only found out by asking other families here what they did.”
Three of her children are too young for school and Velazquez said she has her hands full just taking care of her kids.
She was hopeful, though. Her husband had gone next door to Applebee’s Restaurant for a job interview. He had to leave his job when the family was moved to Greenfield.
Velazquez said that feeding her family is one of the biggest challenges of hotel living.
“We can only eat what we can cook in a microwave,” she said. “It’s expensive and it’s unhealthy. I’m used to making them big, healthy meals at home.”
Velazquez said she’s found assistance hard to come by since her family was forced from their home in Lynn.
“We’ve already been here for two weeks, and I don’t have an appointment with someone from housing for another two,” she said.
Her family isn’t the only one to be uprooted and relocated far from home.
“I’m staying here with my four kids and my boyfriend,” said one woman from Hull, who only wanted to be referred to as Melinda.
All four of her kids will attend Greenfield schools, she said. Two have already started at elementary school and the other two will start at Greenfield High School Monday.
They’ve been in town for about three weeks, since a custody battle ended with her husband taking over the lease to their home.
Others have been staying in area hotels through Home Base for much longer.
When their landlord took over their Palmer apartment because his own home was in foreclosure, Jim and Ranada and their three children were suddenly without a home. The couple preferred their last name not be used. Unable to come up with first and last month’s rent, plus a security deposit, they sought assistance.
“We signed up for Home Base, thinking we’d be put up somewhere close, and that it would only be for a couple weeks,” said Ranada.
She said that they were told it could take up to two years to place them in subsidized housing. She said they were also told that they wouldn’t be moved far from home.
“They told us that we wouldn’t be relocated more than 20 miles from our jobs or our kids’ schools.”
They’ve been living in the Days Inn, more than 50 miles from Palmer, since July. They’ve lost their jobs, and their kids have had to change schools.
They said all they want is to find jobs and an apartment and get off of public assistance. They also wish their kids had more to do than sit in a hotel room, play in the parking lot or take the occasional trip to a park.
If they can find a place to live nearby, they’d like to stay in Greenfield, they said, since their kids have settled into school, and the family likes the area.