Conference held to celebrate achievements in helping the homeless

HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Lawmakers met with non-profit leaders in Holyoke on Friday to celebrate the progress that has been made to end homelessness in western Massachusetts.

The Network to End Homelessness is a collaboration of dozens of local, state and regional agencies.

The Kittridge Conference Center at Holyoke Community College was the setting for a large gathering of state lawmakers, non-profit leaders and those directly impacted by addiction and homelessness.

Michael Lamothe of Westfield was one of three people given an award for putting their life back on track. Lamothe knows what its like to live a life on the streets. He grew up in a broken home, did drugs and alcohol by age 11, was sent to live with a father he never knew, ran away, and was homeless. He told 22News how these agencies saved his life.

“I’m a member of society today because of them. You don’t want to be out there on the streets. But it’s a sickness. You are out there and its hard to find a place. It’s hard to get back on your feet again.”

His mother told 22News what it was like to helplessly watch her son hit rock bottom.

“It was very scary,” said Diane Auger. “To watch him go through that. He’s been down. He couldn’t get down any further than what he was. To see him step up and go through what he has been through is amazing. I am so very proud of him.”

The Network to End Homelessness celebrated their statistical success, and acknowledged that more work needs to be done.

“We have reduced veteran homelessness 27%. We have reduced family homelessness by 35%. That really translates into fewer families living in motels and moving into permanent housing instead,” said Pamela Schwartz, the Director of the Western Massachusetts Networks to End Homelessness.

Their goal is to eliminate veteran homelessness this year, and family and youth homelessness by 2020. Friday’s meeting brought together groups from all sectors including education, housing, child care and health services.

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