Springfield Homeless Shelter Notes New Faces
Homeless shelters in Springfield are seeing a surge in the number of people requesting services this fall. That's part of a larger increase in the number of people served over the past two years.
It's not unusual for homeless shelters across New England to have more requests after the first few chilly nights each fall. But Bill Miller -- the executive director of Friends of the Homeless in Springfield -- says what's different this year is some shelters were already full for most of the summer.
"We averaged 150 people a night. That's typically what we would see in the middle of January or February. And we're certainly concerned about what the winter might bring ahead."
Miller says one thing that concerns him is those requesting services are much younger than he's used to seeing. He says of the twelve-hundred or so people Friends of the Homeless served last year -- thirty-percent were under thirty.
"The longer a person is homeless the harder it is to get out of homelessness. And so when we see young people fall into that path, the challenge is that we may end up seeing them for a really long period of time."
Miller says that demographic shift could mean a long-term problem for Western Massachusetts.