Homelessness rising, demand for housing

BOSTON (WWLP) — Jeffrey Solivan has few options if he’s removed from his foreclosed home in Springfield.  

“The only thing that I can do is to take my tent and to put my tent up and to move out into the street with my two cats.  I have nowhere to go,” said Solivan.

He joined hundreds of homeless advocates at the State House Wednesday to ask state lawmakers for more funding for emergency shelters and low-income housing options.

“Homelessness has became a serious issue here in Springfield as it is,” said Solivan.  “There are many homes you see, you can drive down these streets, you see many homes are all boarded up when they should be turning on those lights in those homes and giving these to homeless families.”

Advocates say homelessness in Massachusetts is rising.  As of December, there were about 3,800 families housed in emergency shelters and about 6,500 families in the state’s HomeBASE rental assistance program.  

The Patrick administration has taken a “housing first” approach to homelessness that prioritizes housing over shelters.  But advocates say the state’s housing programs do not last long enough for families to get back up on their feet.

“You help these people for half of the year for six months of the year, pay their rent …well then what happens after that six months is up? How do they get that money? And they’re just setting up more families up for failure,” said Solobia Hutchins, a member of Arise for Social Justice in Springfield.

Advocates are also asking lawmakers for half a million dollars to count the number of homeless youth on Massachusetts streets in order to stage more effective interventions.

Copyright 2014 WWLP TV. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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