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Cost of hotels, quality of meals questioned in Massachusetts homeless migrant crisis

Meals provided to homeless families, migrants in Mass. hotels appear to lack nutrition
Meals provided to homeless families, migrants in Mass. hotels appear to lack nutrition 05:15

BOSTON - The I-Team is continuing to dig into the cost of the homeless migrant crisis in Massachusetts. Uncovering state contracts that show taxpayers are paying tens of millions of dollars to hotels for rooms and food. Questioning the state oversight and inspection of the properties and the food.

Promotional video of the Fairfield Inn Boston Dedham shows when it was open, the nightly room rate started at about $129.

Now used to house homeless families and migrants, the state is paying more than $180 for the same room, or about $5400 a month for one room with no kitchen.

Hotel Dedham
WBZ-TV's Cheryl Fiandaca speaks with a woman living in the Fairfield Inn Boston Dedham CBS Boston

 A resident, who is a domestic violence survivor experiencing homelessness, has been living at the hotel with her two teenage daughters. She tells the I-Team, "$5,000 a month for this room, that blows my mind."

The I-Team went inside to see what the state is getting for its money. Contracts obtained by the I-Team show the state agreed to rent 149 rooms for ten months. That means this one hotel is estimated to collect $8,978,692 from taxpayers.

"A lot of money with very little in return"   

Mary Connaughton from the Pioneer Institute, a policy watchdog group says, "I think the money could be much better spent by considering other options. For instance, rentals. Get long-term rentals. They need kitchens. They need a kitchen to cook to make sure you have nutritious meals. This option it seems like a lot of money with very little in return."

Without a kitchen, the state contract requires the inn to provide meals. Fairfield is billing the state $37 per person per day for every resident over the age of two: $16 for lunch and $21 for dinner. The estimated bill for taxpayers: $7,343,316.

Hotel meal
Meal provided to families living Dedham hotel CBS Boston

Families tell us the food and the portions are the same for kids and adults. The I-Team got a look at the meals the state is paying $21 for. A container of spaghetti with hot dogs one night and rice with one chicken drumstick in another.

Meals appear to lack nutrition

We showed the photos to Boston University nutrition professor Dr. Joan Salge Blake. "So, when I looked at the photos of these meals, many had no fruit, and many had no dairy," Blake said. "But what was most disturbing to me is the protein source was unrecognizable to me. I didn't know what it was."

The family we spoke to did not know either and says the $16 lunches are not much different. "Honestly there is nothing edible. Soup, which is just liquid, there's no veggies there is no nothing in it. Three of them had just bones in them."

Homeless migrant meals
Meals provided to families living in Dedham hotel CBS Boston

 Dr. Salge Blake says, "it's not nutrition until you eat it, so if it does not taste good and it's not visually appealing and they don't eat it, what's the end game here."

Giri Hotel Management to collect $46M 

The Fairfield Inn is one of nine hotels with state contracts. Owned by Giri Hotel Management, each location is a limited liability company. All have the same owner, Ashish Sangani, he lives in a sprawling home on the water with a pool and a basketball court. By the end of June, his properties will collect more than $46 million from taxpayers.

Last October, Giri's Foxboro location came under fire for canceling reservations that veterans had for the Army/Navy game at Gilette Stadium. In a statement to WBZ, Giri did not address the controversy but said, it is "...thrilled to ... provide shelter and support to refugees at our hotels."

Contracts raise questions about state oversight  

Those contracts now raising questions about state oversight and what appears to be the apparent lack of nutritious meals.

Connaughton says, "The taxpayers deserve to know that the money is being well spent. Are they making sure that they're getting the best deals? Do they have oversight over the contracts once they are in place? these are all questions that the state needs to answer."

The I-Team asked the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities if and when the state inspected the hotels or the food. We were told they made site visits when they had complaints.

Families we talked to say they have complained and are now desperate to move. "I'm just praying to God to just help us get out of here."

The I-Team reached out to Giri Hotel Management but did not hear back. We also contacted the state several times about our story and were told the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities would provide us with a statement. It did not.

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