Some thoughts on homelessness this holiday season.
Homelessness in Massachusetts is at crisis proportions. Our state, certainly, one of the richest in the country, is currently third in terms of families without shelter, behind New York and California. Some say that our numbers are so high because we have a more precise system for counting homeless families, but really what does that matter, our state still has far too many families without shelter.
If we look at numbers, there are currently 4800 homeless families in our state with over 1700 living in hotels and motels because there is no room in existing shelters or because there is an insufficient number of affordable apartments here in Massachusetts. The hotel/motel sheltering option is in many ways a human scandal as they are not only costly to the state and often place people in locations far away from schools and other important services but also living in one room with two or three children is just not acceptable for women whose husband has abandoned them or divorced them without providing child support. We can do better in Massachusetts.
The homeless crisis is not going to magically disappear. Already the numbers of families and individuals has reached record proportions, and the really cold wintry weather has yet to set in. Staff members of homeless organizations, like Fr. Bill’s and Mainspring, where I am a board member, are overwhelmed by the numbers of clients seeking shelter and services so they can get back on their feet.
Our incoming governor, Charlie Baker, has made homelessness a high priority and that is welcome news but action by his new administration is months away. In the meantime during this holiday season your generosity to help out the homeless would be greatly appreciated. You can go online at helpfbms.org and make a donation or call the donation office to make a pledge at 855-435-7326.
Although homelessness can hit anyone and any family, it bears repeating that the stereotype of the homeless person is not the alcoholic or drug addict wandering the streets. Most of the homeless are families, people with mental or emotional problems, young people estranged from their families and increasingly veterans who return to our state with the scars of war.
Thank you in advance for helping out those in need.