State budget could leave local homeless services underfunded

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)–  Orlando Resteo says that without the resources offered at Friends of the Homeless in Springfield, he would not have been able to secure permanent housing.

“They work with you, your social worker with you,” Resteo told 22News. “It’s a process you know, everything is a process, you have to wait, but in the end you’re going to get it, no matter what you’re going to get it if you do the right things.”

One of the main missions for Friends of the Homeless is to transition homeless individuals from temporary shelter life into a more permanent living situation

As it stands right now, the fiscal year 2016 budget line item for individual homeless services will increase funding statewide, but how that money gets distributed could leave Springfield’s Friends of the Homeless operating at a loss. Long term, that deficit could affect their ability to stay open during the day.

Director of the facility, Bill Miller says they currently get the state’s minimum level funding, while some services in the eastern part of the state receive more than double that.

“What we want is a fair rate of pay from the capital, from the state. And the people that are homeless here have just as many needs as the people that are homeless in Boston or in any other city,” Miller said.

A recent amendment to the budget, asking for an additional $350,000 for Friends of the Homeless to bring their funding up to the state’s average, was denied.

Miller says that they will continue utilize donations and private funds to avoid cutting services, and will continue to meet with legislatures to try and secure equal funding.

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