[Hpn] Homelessness UP sharply since 1990 in high-tech Boston MA USA - fwd fwd

Tom Boland wgcp@earthlink.net
Sat, 16 Dec 2000 11:39:52 -0800 (PST)


FWD  http://www.globe.com/news/daily/14/homeless.htm

     NUMBER OF PEOPLE WITHOUT HOMES CLIMBS, CITY SAYS

     By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, 14 December 2000

BOSTON (AP) -- Despite the economic boom that has hit tech-heavy Boston,
the city's homeless population has risen dramatically over the past decade,
according to figures released Thursday.

The number of homeless individuals has jumped 61 percent since 1990. The
number of homeless children has tripled, from 436 in 1990 to 1,310 in 2000,
according to an annual homeless census conducted by the city of Boston this
week.

The majority of those homeless were living in shelters. About 213 were on
the street.

"These are the best of economic times. The economy is booming. But there
are people being left behind," Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said.

On Monday, volunteers fanned out across the city to conduct the homeless count.

The count turned up 5,906 homeless adults and children, a slight increase
of 1.5 percent from last year.

Other findings from the survey include:

- The number of homeless families has increased 26 percent since 1998;

- The number of homeless women has increased 77 percent in the past decade,
from 771 in 1990 to 1,371 in 2000;

- 29 percent of homeless adults and 25 percent of homeless families are
working, but still unable to pay rent;

- Men still make up 55 percent of the homeless population with most having
a mental illness or substance addiction.

Officials blamed the increase in part on the skyrocketing cost of housing.

Some families have been forced to double and triple up on housing. Rising
rents have also dried up the city's stock of lower-rent rooming houses,
Menino said.

Philip Mangano, the executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and
Shelter Alliance, said the numbers prove efforts to ease homelessness
aren't working.

"The response thus far has been disproportionate to the magnitude of the
problem," Mangano said.

A joint effort between the state and homeless shelters could help. The
state has agreed to pay $1.8 million for 600 additional beds in shelters
across the state. The shelters will pay for 200 more beds.

But Mangano said that a new bill submitted last week could do more.

The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Byron Rushing, D-Boston, and state Sen.
Steven Panagiotakos, D-Lowell, would require the state to create a plan to
ensure no homeless person would spend more than six months without a
permanent kind of emergency placement.

"It's more expensive to have people in shelters than to pay their rent,"
Rushing said.

He acknowledged the bill faces an uphill battle.

Gov. Paul Cellucci pledged earlier this year to make 200 housing units a
year available for very low-income people. Menino pledged 300 additional
units a year.

But many advocates for the homeless say that's not enough.

"The clients we advocate for are not able to find affordable housing. If
you're working and you're making $8.75, you're roughly grossing $340 a
week," said Robyn Frost, executive director, of the Massachusetts Coalition
for the Homeless. "The average rent in this city is somewhere between
$1,200-1,400 a month. Now lets say you have a child or have food. There's
no way you can make it."

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