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Nashua alderman irked that city pays hotel welfare money

Union Leader Correspondent

September 04. 2014 8:38PM

NASHUA — With ongoing troubles at one of the city’s boarding houses, at least two aldermen are questioning why welfare dollars are still being distributed to the Temple Street Hotel.

During the month of August, more than $1,350 in welfare assistance money was given to the rooming house at 23-25 Temple St., a 117-room hotel that offers transient housing to clients on a weekly basis.

“We don’t have a day that goes by without police responding to 23 Temple St.,” Mayor Donnalee Lozeau told the aldermanic Finance Committee this week after the issue was raised by aldermen. “We are working on it. It has a lot of our attention.”

David Deane, president of the Board of Aldermen, said too many city resources are spending too much time at the facility — including police, fire and ambulance personnel.

“It is staggering,” said Deane, adding he recently witnessed an individual passed out on the street outside of 23 Temple St. at 11 a.m. in the morning, prompting him to call authorities.

Earlier this year, more than a dozen people were arrested in connection with a drug bust at the rooming house where significant amounts of heroin were allegedly being sold by at least five occupants.

In addition, a former resident of 23 Temple St., Daniel J. Burke, pleaded guilty earlier this year to negligent homicide in the death of Christina Hill, a city woman whose body was found wrapped in plastic at a different apartment building in the city.

Alderman Ken Siegel, Ward 9, said he understands the need to pay welfare assistance to various facilities that provide temporary housing for those in need. The problem, he said, isn’t the welfare assistance, but rather who the city is paying to provide the services.

“Given what we are seeing at those locations, is this the right place to put city money?” Siegel asked his colleagues. It seems to provide an economic reward for activities that we don’t want to be encouraging in Nashua, said Siegel.

Lozeau said she is not a fan of how 23 Temple St. is being managed, and she agreed with the concerns.

“But we don’t have discretion on where we pay the funds,” said Lozeau. “ … We don’t get to say we are not going to pay if you are here or there.”

“I think we do have recourse within our welfare department. It is our money,” contended Deane.

Lozeau explained that city staff does not send people in need to those facilities. If citizens who need welfare assistance go to specific housing sites and they qualify for assistance, those facilities get paid, according to Lozeau.

“We don’t say ‘go move here’ or ‘go move there,’” said the mayor.

Deane stressed that he doesn’t have a problem offering tax dollars to support the needy, but he believes they should not be residing at 23 Temple St., and should be placed elsewhere.

From Aug. 1 to Aug. 28, the city made separate payments of $360, $300 and $720 to 23-25 Temple St. Realty LLC for welfare assistance, according to the city’s record of expenditures.

Two weeks prior, from July 11 to July 31, a $476 payment was made to the rooming house, which was originally constructed as the Nashua YMCA.

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