[Hpn] Homeless census:The tip of the iceberg;Boston MA
Morgan W. Brown
Wed, 13 Dec 2000 13:07:29 -0500
Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Metro: City & Region section
Homeless census: The tip of the iceberg
By Farah Stockman, Globe Staff, 12/13/2000
Just after midnight yesterday, a clean-shaven man in a puffy green jacket
awoke to the sound of someone gently knocking on the door of his bedroom for
the night - the claim-check booth of a parking lot on Washington Street.
The visitor was Mayor Thomas M. Menino, out with 150 volunteers scouring
dark corners of the city for the annual homeless census.
''Wow! The mayor. How do you do, sir?'' the man asked, pumping Menino's
hand. The man, who did not give his name, said he wanders the subway lines
by day and makes his own shelters by night. He was one of 213 homeless
counted in the annual survey during a three-hour tour of some of the city's
grittiest nooks and crannies.
The number is down from 250 last year, but officials said it represents only
a tiny fraction of the city's burgeoning homeless population. A final tally
- which will include the thousands who stay in shelters or transitional
housing - is set to be announced tomorrow.
Homeless advocates say they expect this year's total to rise above last
year's because the number of people who sought shelter over the summer
matched last winter's highest figures.
City officials said rising homelessness is the brutal underside of a booming
economy that saw rents skyrocket around the city and suburbs.
''There is no reason we should have so many homeless in our city. These are
the best of economic times,'' Menino said. ''But the affordability of
housing is not there.''
Richard Weintraub, Boston's director of homeless services, estimated that 20
to 25 percent of the city's homeless hold jobs as day laborers and
restaurant workers. But the wages do not afford them a place to live. Many
also struggle with mental illness, substance abuse and family problems, city
While the city volunteers offered everyone a ride to a shelter during the
census, few accepted. Shelters are dangerous, they said, and only offer a
bed for one night.
Willetta Wilkerson, 32, cried out to Menino's band of mittened counters from
her wheelchair on Milk Street.
''What about a room, Mayor? What about a room?'' she asked, then added, ''I
want a home.''
This story ran on page B06 of the Boston Globe on 12/13/2000.
**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**
~~~Related Web site URL's -- FYI:
Mayor Thomas M. Menino
City of Boston:
Community Task Force on Homelessness:
Shelters and Resources for the Homeless in Boston:
Massachusetts Homeless Resources:
Central Massachusetts Shelter for Homeless Veterans:
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless:
Boston's Spare Change/Homeless Empowerment Project:
" How to Obtain Housing Assistance in MA":
Homelessness in Massachusetts:
Are State-Funded Resources and Services Allocated and Coordinated
Effectively?; December 20, 1999:
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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