BOSTON (STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE) – Advocates for the homeless sent letters to lawmakers Tuesday, pressing them to dedicate $50-million in the next budget to a line item that funds 40 organizations that help homeless individuals.
The Coalition for Homeless Individuals said it has become harder for service providers to meet the basic needs of the homeless because those seeking shelter more frequently come through the door with complex addiction or mental health issues, the average length of stay has gotten longer and state funding has not kept up.
The Homeless Individuals Assistance budget line item (7004-0102) has declined by 8.6% since 2001 when adjusted for inflation, according to the coalition. Governor Charlie Baker’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal would fund the line item at $45.18-million, up from $44.83 in the current budget, but the coalition is pushing the Legislature to go further and allocate $50-million to the line item.
“Every day, we are required to divert more resources to these individuals with significant needs and are not able to provide the targeted services that get people into permanent housing and out of the shelter system,” the coalition wrote in its letter. “Currently, the Commonwealth only covers 47% of the true costs of the shelter beds in this line item and 35% of the true costs for day shelters, supportive and rehabilitative service providers. This is an unsustainable system and one that is designed to fail.”
Statewide, there are approximately 8,000 homeless individuals and 2,700 are moved into permanent housing each year, the coalition said. The state classifies people experiencing homelessness two ways: as individuals — which includes adults and unaccompanied youth — or as families. Each group receives separate services funding from different sources.
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