Mass. Lawmakers Look at State’s Rising Number of Homeless

Massachusetts state lawmakers are looking at how to help the state’s growing number of homeless families. At an oversight hearing Wednesday, advocates said the state is in a crisis.

Homelessness is at an all time high in Massachusetts. The state’s emergency shelter system is now serving about 4,000 families, or twice its capacity.

The shelters are so full that the state has been sending families to motels – costing tens of millions of dollars a year.

“Why aren’t we able to empty the motels? Heaven knows we’ve tried,” says Peter Gagliardi, the executive director of Springfield based housing agency HapHousing. “There have been three massive waves of effort in the last several years, and each time we have succeeded in reducing the number and each time they’ve refilled and then some. It’s worse than the myth of Sisyphus. Not only do we go back up the hill but the hill gets higher.”

Massachusetts Undersecretary of Housing Aaron Gornstein says the state needs more permanent affordable housing, which is expensive to build.

Meanwhile, Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Charlie Baker said in a statement Wednesday that he would try to stop sending homeless families to motels by the end of his first year in office.