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Brockton hotel turned into apartments could be model for homeless housing

Brockton hotel-turned-apartments could be model for homeless housing
Brockton hotel-turned-apartments could be model for homeless housing 03:06

BROCKTON – In Brockton, a hotel that was used for emergency shelter for the homeless during the pandemic has become a model for permanent housing.

In 2020, Father Bill's and MainSpring placed homeless individuals in the Roadway Inn to depopulate their emergency shelter and slow the spread of COVID. Father Bill's Chief Operating Officer April Connolly said she watched as the shelter's clients thrived in their own spaces.

"What we saw when we just gave people a little bit more room was their stress level came down, not just the impact on their physical health, but just their quality of life improved. People were more pleasant with each other," Connolly told WBZ-TV.

Father Bill's ended up buying the inn and converting it into permanent housing units. The Roadway Apartments opened in early 2022.

Now, a tour of the building reveals a lobby with mailboxes and a room with laundry machines.

Connolly said the hotel conversion saved money and time.

"It's roughly about 300 square feet with its own bathroom and its own kitchenette area," she said of the units. "When we build an apartment building from the ground up, it costs anywhere from three to $500,000 per unit to build it. This was $150,000 per unit."

Ray Gaessler is one of Roadway's tenants. After struggling with housing for some time, Ray proudly showed off his pantry and collection of DVDs.

"I cook meatballs, beef stew, anything," he said.

For Gaessler, permanent housing has given him the ability to spend more time with family.

"Both of my boys come to visit me," Gaessler said.

Now, Roadway could be a roadmap for other non-profits seeking to develop housing for the homeless.  

"I think there are several that are in the process of trying to develop and all over the state," Connolly said.

Father Bill's is also looking to convert more vacant or under-utilized properties into housing.

They have already purchased an armory in Brockton which will be turned into a shelter and more permanent housing.

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