BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) — “As a parent it definitely is the worst feeling in the world to not be able to give your kids their bare necessities,” said Caitlin Davis, a homeless mother of two.
Davis’ family is one of many who have been turned away from emergency shelters. Appearing before the Department of Housing and Community Development, homeless parents testified that with nowhere else to go, their kids have been sleeping in cars and public parks.
“It’s heart breaking that this is happening to not just my family, but look at the auditorium filled with people and all across the state really,” said Davis.
While the governor and the Legislature have directed more money to permanent housing solutions to eliminate homelessness, advocates say they’ve cut $40 million in shelter funding and tightened the rules on who can be admitted into shelters in the process. As a result, emergency shelters have become less accessible. Last month, the number of families seeking shelter who were turned away went from about 45 to nearly 75 percent compared to previous months.
“Yes, we do need those resources for housing and prevention, but again we cannot dismantle the safety net of shelter without having an alternative for these families,” said Homes For Families Policy Director Diane Sullivan.
State officials agree there is room to adjust shelter eligibility rules. But they insist the state cannot go back to the previous practice of draining state resources and housing families in costly motels and hotels.
“We’re going to need to request more funding for emergency shelters, so to the extent we expand the eligibility going forward, we’re going to need millions and millions of dollars from the Legislature to do that,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Aaron Gornstein.
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