As I was pulling into my driveway after the Vote No on Question One last night, I saw a friend of mine who's been sleeping out in a tent in a local park. He asked if he could come over and take a shower to clean up for work the next day, and I said yes, so we had a bit of time to chat.
My friend is actually working under the table for a local property owner, helping him with drywall, carpentry, etc. (He has a criminal record for drugs and getting a straight job has proved difficult.) He's making about $65 a day and is able to save a little-- not a lot, because he still has to eat and wash his clothes, and this week had to purchase a tarp to prepare for the weekend's predicted rainy weather.
"I think I could afford to rent a room," he said, "maybe $75, $100 bucks a week."
Problem is, I haven't seen a room for rent for that price for at least five years. If you live in the Springfield, MA area and know of a room at that priice, let me know.
I've been collecting the latest information on tent cities for a post. Meanwhile, Ira from Northampton has told me that many people in the Northampton area are tenting out, and my friend is scarcely the only person I know in Springfield who's also in a tent.
What will this winter bring? Springfield will open another overflow shelter (not the Warming Place, however) and no ground has been broken yet at Friends of the Homeless' Worthington St. shelter renovation, which means yet another winter without a place for people to go in the daytime.
Meanwhile there are boarded-up houses on just about every street in Springfield that I drive down.