City of Springfield files lawsuit against social service provider

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)- Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno has said the state is creating “pockets of poverty” by dumping homeless families in Springfield apartments.

As of Wednesday, there were 1,494 homeless families in hotels and motels across the state. That’s down more than 30% from it’s peak of 2,159, according to the state, but Springfield feels they’re getting more than their share, the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development said.

The City of Springfield filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Center for Human Development-one of the larger social services that has allegedly helped move homeless families out of hotels and motels and into apartments in Springfield.  Many single apartment units which the city says house multiple families.

The city said they weren’t informed, and that this violates housing codes.

Paul McMorrow, Director of policy and communications for the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development sent 22News this statement.

“Over the past years DHCD and its nonprofit partners have brought online 220 shelter units in the Springfield area. This expansion has been completed. It was consistent with demand from homeless families in the area, it was consistent with the state’s well-publicized goal of reducing and eventually eliminating the practice of sheltering homeless families in hotels and motels, and it occurred with Springfield officials sitting at the table.”

Mayor Domenic Sarno told 22News, “This has completely blindsided us and my team.”

Mayor Sarno said that more than half of these families have ties to Springfield, but the city can’t afford the growing homeless population coming from outside the area and homeless families have also taken a toll on the city’s school system.

“397 school aged children here that we’re aware of.  That is a whole grammar school, that’s a whole grammar school. And who foots the bill for that…we do,” Mayor Sarno said.

The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development says 70% of the homeless being housed in Springfield are from Springfield or neighboring towns.

Mayor Sarno wants lawmakers to deal with this issue so that the homeless problem stops getting bigger.

Click Here to see Mayor Sarno’s interview with 22News.


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