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Violations do not hold up with state contract for Days Inn | Merrimack Valley | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey


METHUEN — The state is paying over $211.9 million to Community Teamwork to assist homeless and immigrant families in shelters, including the Days Inn in Methuen.

“We’re trying to do the best that we possibly can,” Kathleen Plath, director of marketing and communications for Community Teamwork, previously said. “We’re working with these families daily.”

Community Teamwork, based in Lowell, has been working with the immigrant and homeless families at the Days Inn for a year now. The organization serves the families who call the 113 units at the Days Inn in Methuen temporary home.

The nonprofit works with residents in 63 communities in Middlesex and Essex counties and was contracted by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities to provide shelter and support to families experiencing homelessness.

The commonwealth is a right-to-shelter state for qualifying families. In addition to other criteria, homeless families must be sheltered if they are at or below 115% of the federal poverty level and have below the $5,000 asset limit.

The state’s contract with Community Teamwork started July 1 and can extend through June 30, 2032. In a previous contract for fiscal 2023, Community Teamwork earned $14,532,688.71. It is estimated that the nonprofit will receive $211,906,238.31 over 10 years to serve families at five congregate shelter locations, including the Days Inn in Methuen, as well as 80 scattered sites.

The estimated annual budget is as follows, according to the contract.

Permanent Nightly Rate

Rate — $172.55

Bed nights per year — 48,678

Estimated annual total — $8,399,388.90

Temporary Nightly Rate

Rate — $326.25

Bed nights per year — 40,992

Estimated annual total — $13,373,640

Diversion

Rate per family — $8,736.55

Families per year — 10

Estimated annual total — $87,365.50

Strategic Rehousing Initiative

Rate per family — $7,000

Families per year — 10

Estimated annual total — $70,000

In addition to Community Teamwork, other organizations received grants to support homeless and immigrant families throughout the state. The Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities issued 48 emergency assistant preliminary awards effective of July 1, 2022, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only two applicants were rejected.

Plath said Community Teamwork, however, did not place the homeless families at the Days Inn in Methuen.

“Please note, the state chose the Methuen hotel location, placed families at the location, then contracted Community Teamwork to provide services,” Plath said.

The state, however, seems to have no records of communicating with the management of the Days Inn.

Noah Bombard, director of communications for the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities, and Adrian Walleigh, the primary records access officer, claimed on Oct. 6 that the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities has no records between the state and Dilip Patel, Navin Patel and/or Ashok Patel regarding an agreement to house homeless and immigrant populations at the Days Inn in Methuen.

In a letter, Bombard and Walleigh said searches for the Patels provided just 41 individual items of communications, but 35 of them were between The Eagle-Tribune and the department regarding the record request.

Even still, in the contract between the office and Community Teamwork, the “scope of service” indicated the contractor, Community Teamwork, must “provide safe, clean, well-maintained and furnished facilities for families.”

“Each shelter facility must meet all state and local health, safety and licensing and/or occupancy requirements,” the contract requires, including certifications, permits and ordinances. “In a congregate shelter, furnishings within the family’s own assigned bedroom must include, at a minimum, beds, side tables and dressers, adequate lighting, and appropriate window treatments; common dining and sitting areas must also be appropriately furnished.”

But recent inspections did not find this true to the Days Inn situation.

As recently reported by The Eagle-Tribune, 100 of the 113 rooms plus the main first floor bathroom had 347 violations, including issues with mold, rodents, and broken walls and tiles.

For child safety, the contract with Community Teamwork states that “precautions must be taken to ensure” their safety. This includes “uncovered heating units or exposed electrical wiring, electrical outlets and/or switches without cover plates and safety plugs.”

The inspectors found four light fixtures and three unit outlets not in good repair. Eleven outlets were exposed, and four sink outlets had plates loose. Plate covers were cracked in five rooms, and an outlet was cracked overall in one.

Windows without screens were also explicitly laid out as a hazard in the contract. The inspectors found 28 window screens missing or broken throughout the hotel.

“It’s not in the condition it should be,” said Methuen Mayor Neil Perry. “There’s got to be a better way.”

Follow Monica on Twitter at @MonicaSager3

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