Monday, November 9, 2009

Don't let Massachusetts' homeless die on the streets

Springfield's Worthington St.Shelter broke ground last week for a new resource center, a rehab of the existing shelter, and 32 efficiency apartments.  It's been a very long time coming, and  completion may still be affected by funding shortfalls.  In theory, 32 homeless people now living in the shelter will move into the apartments, freeing up 32 beds at the overnight shelter.  But that won't happen this year.  This year there are still not enough beds in Springfield for homeless people.  A friend of mine just finished up a weeklong stay on the floor in a hallway of the shelter.  The emergency shelter at the former St. Francis Chapel

The new complex, however, still will not be a 24 hour shelter.  (Don't want those homeless people to get too comfortable, now, do we?)  So homeless people have limited options for what to do in the 12 hours they are unsheltered.  Many of these folks have physical disabilities that make it difficult for them to spend much time walking around, but if they can, they'll make their way to the Loaves and Fishes Soup Kitchen on State St., which stays open as much as possible between the noontime and the suppertime meal.

Meanwhile, Gov. Patrick's 9C cuts are eliminating $2.7 million from the $36 million line item which provides shelter and case management services for the state's single homeless people.  It wasn't enough money to start with,, and now, some 500 shelter beds across the state are at risk.  You can read the details at the Mass. Housing and Shelter Alliance.  Then, I beg you, take action.

Call the Governor and your state reps and senators and:

  • Ask them to restore the $2.7 million in funding eliminated from the Homeless Individual Assistance Account in order to protect the health and safety of individuals who are homeless this winter with no where to turn.

Calls to the Governor can be placed through his constituent office:  617-725-4005.  Your State Senator and Representative can be reached through the general state house number at 617-722-2000.

1 comment:

Gerry McCafferty said...

I want to add my agreement to the importance of contacting the Governor and requesting that he reverse the cuts to the Homeless Individual Assistance Account.

But, Michaelann, you've been given bad information about the Homeless Resource Center. The Center, scheduled to open next summer, will be open 24/7. The idea of the Center is to provide people the services (housing search, employment training & search, health care) as well as the tools (phones, mail, computer, fax) that they need to be able to get out of homelessness, in a location that is open and available at all hours. It's been a long time coming, but once open, it should be able to offer the advantages of Project Homeless Connect on a daily basis.