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Massachusetts pays millions to vendors in migrant crisis with little oversight, I-Team finds

Vendors collecting taxpayer money for Massachusetts homeless migrant crisis with little oversight
Vendors collecting taxpayer money for Massachusetts homeless migrant crisis with little oversight 03:27

BOSTON - The cost of the migrant and homeless crisis in Massachusetts is now approaching $1 billion. WBZ-TV's I-Team has found the state is paying millions to vendors with little oversight on how that taxpayer money is being spent.

$10 million no bid contract

The I-Team was the first to uncover a $10 million no bid contract for a catering company, and also showed how hotel groups are also collecting millions for housing and food. We're now learning that those vendors are collecting taxpayer money with little to no state oversight.

Some of the dinners paid for by taxpayers include spaghetti with hot dogs for $21 and rice with one chicken drumstick for the same price. State Senator Peter Durant, a Republican from Worcester who serves on the Senate Post Audit and Oversight committee, told the I-Team, "We're paying $21 for that. It's just, it's crazy."

Hotel meal
Meal provided to families living Dedham hotel CBS Boston

These lunches and dinners were given to migrants and homeless families at the Fairfield Inn Dedham Boston. The contract, obtained by the I-Team, shows the state is paying just this one hotel $7,343,316 for food, with no provision or requirement that the meals be nutritious or meet USDA recommendations, leaving it up to the hotel to decide what to serve.

Dr. Joan Salge Blake, a nutrition professor at Boston University says, "when you hire a vendor like that you need guidelines. You really, really should have some oversight of the quality of the meals that are being served."

No oversight or inspections for meals  

But the contract does not have any provisions for oversight or inspections for the meals. Meaning the state is paying vendors millions without knowing what it is getting for its money. Senator Durant says, "I don't think that we could have really foreseen how horribly this is being managed. When you look at those meals and when you look at the cost of the hotels. It doesn't take a lot of negotiation to make these contracts better."

The Fairfield Inn is part of Giri Hotel Management, nine of its hotels have state contracts, and by the end of this year will collect $24,319,212 for the meals it is providing. Senator Durant calls it wasted money going down the drain.

Fairfield Inn Dedham Boston
Fairfield Inn Dedham Boston CBS Boston

Ashish Sangani lists himself as the owner of Giri Hotels on LinkedIn. Sangani lives in a sprawling home on the water. He declined our request for an on-camera interview, instead a spokesperson provided this statement: 

"We were specifically asked by the state to provide more cultural foods that were familiar to the majority of our residents, who have arrived in Massachusetts from war-torn Haiti. We hired a Haitian chef who specializes in popular Haitian cuisine made from the major staples of the Haitian community; beans, rice, vegetables and meats such as chicken, pork, goat and fish. Some of the most common Haitian foods are: rice and beans with a side of meat, vegetable or plantains (which provide fiber, heart healthy vitamins C and B6 & minerals), Griot-Fried pork chunks with plantains and spicy slaw, Tasso-Fried or grilled turkey served with rice and beans or plantains, and Stew made with bone-in meat, vegetables and served with rice. We are providing food that our Haitian residents recognize, are comfortable with, and want to eat. We will remain mindful of our residents' dietary needs moving forward as they become more familiarized with American foods." - Giri Hotel Management 

"Somebody dropped the ball on this"

"Somebody dropped the ball on this. And dropped it in a big way," Sen. Durant said. "I think it falls on the shoulders of the governor. The executive branch is responsible for these contracts and the buck stops there." 

The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities is the agency involved with the contracts. It previously told the I-Team it only conducts site visits of the hotels if they get complaints. We asked for those records, repeatedly for more than a month. So far, the state has failed to provide them.

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