Homelessness down last year, but still up over past decade

Homelessness has increased 16 percent in past 10 years

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Homelessness has declined in Massachusetts over the last year, but the state still has the highest number of homeless people in New England.

22News spoke with Celinda Cloud who says her family has been without a permanent place to call home for months.

The latest Department of Housing and Urban Development national estimate shows homelessness in Massachusetts has declined by almost 10.5 percent since last year. Still, more than 17,500 people are homeless on a given night in Massachusetts this year, and the state still has more homeless residents than any other New England state.

Springfield is one of the smaller cities in the country with a high homeless population, more than 2,000 people in the Springfield area are homeless.

Cloud who has been homeless for 6 months told 22News, she thinks that number is higher.

“The rent is a lot of money, it’s like $850 a month and not everybody could afford that and stuff, so, it’s just, I don’t see it,” Cloud told 22News.

Three to six percent of people living in Massachusetts experienced homelessness at some point this year, while less than 1 percent of people living in other New England states have been homeless.

In Vermont, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, fewer than 1,500 people are homeless. In Maine, there are 2,000 homeless residents, and nearly 3,500 homeless residents in Connecticut.

California, America’s most populous state, has the most people with nowhere to live- nearly 135,000 people. Sixty-eight percent of that homeless population went unsheltered, followed by neighboring Nevada with more than 58 percent of their homeless population finding nowhere to go.

In Massachusetts, most homeless people lived in local emergency shelters or transitional housing programs, while nearly 1,000 had no place to stay at all.

The annual report found that the number of veterans experiencing homelessness went down in the past year, by 10 percent. The number of homeless veterans is down by 46 percent overall since 2010.

Still, despite the year-over-year decline, homelessness has become a greater problem in Massachusetts over the past decade. Nearly 4,500 people in families with children are homeless in Massachusetts- that number has gone up 65 percent in the past 10 years. Overall, homelessness has increased 16 percent in Massachusetts over the last decade.