Massachusetts has received a $5.3 million federal grant aimed at preventing and combating homelessness. Much of that funding will go to getting homeless individuals and families out of shelters and into more permanent housing.
Bill Miller is the executive director of Friends of the Homeless, a Springfield shelter that is receiving over $100,000 from the grant. He says overcrowding has been a consistent issue at the shelter.
“We have 140 beds and some nights we might have as many as 160 or 165 people, and so what happens when you run out of beds is people get a blanket.”
Miller says the federal funds will help Friends of the Homeless offset the cost of serving extra people.
$2 million of the grant is designated for so-called “rapid re-housing” initiatives that help homeless people move out of shelters and into permanent housing. Gerry McCafferty is the director of housing for the city of Springfield. She says many people who are homeless may be deterred from finding more permanent housing because of the up-front costs of rentals.
“There are people with income that could afford a monthly rent, but they can’t make it because they have to come up with a first month’s rent, security deposit, and last month’s rent all at the same time, which is a huge chunk of cash for someone who’s low-income.”
McCafferty adds the grant works towards a more permanent solution to homelessness.
“It’s saying that shelter’s are never a good solution to homelessness, and the answer is to get people into housing with whatever supports they need to stay there.”
An official with the state’s department of housing says the funds will help 700 families at risk of becoming homeless, and aid nearly 800 individuals in finding housing.