[Hpn] Don't warehouse homeless, experts warn;Worcester Telegram & Gazette;10/26/01
Morgan W. Brown
Fri, 26 Oct 2001 07:15:05 -0400
Friday, October 26, 2001
Worcester Telegram & Gazette <http://www.telegram.com>
Local News section
Don't warehouse homeless, experts warn
Friday, October 26, 2001
By Richard Nangle
Telegram & Gazette Staff
WORCESTER-- Believing that there is a solution to homelessness and that the
only question is when it will be implemented, hundreds of Massachusetts
advocates for the homeless came to the College of the Holy Cross yesterday
to compare experiences and listen to experts extol the virtues of moving
people from shelters into housing.
Yesterday's sixth annual Convocation on the Abolition of Homelessness
touched on a wide range of issues, including substance abuse and mental
health treatment for the homeless and pending federal legislation designed
to alleviate homelessness.
Philip Mangano, who heads the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance,
said the city People in Peril shelter is a shining example of a working
shelter that helps the down-and-out move up-and-in -- to housing.
“The PIP is moving people beyond homelessness and into transitional housing
and into permanent housing,” he said.
While some shelters in other communities are mainly focused on providing
immediate services for the homeless, the PIP always sets the bar higher, he
“I'm always surprised when somebody is complaining about the PIP,” he said.
“The intent is to end homelessness. They want the people not to be homeless
While a number of city officials have complained about the downtown location
of the shelter, Mr. Mangano said a similar situation has worked out famously
in Boston, where the St. Francis House is situated downtown near a
multimillion dollar development.
“Rather than ask St. Francis to move, the city officials and developers
looked for ways to provide better services to help end homelessness and move
them off the streets,” he said.
“The idea of negotiation and inclusion, rather than noncommunication and
exclusion, has worked very well in downtown Boston with St. Francis House.
They serve very, very difficult people right in the heart of the business
day, actually,” he said. “It's a good model.”
Homeless people will stay in a downtown area regardless of whether there is
a shelter there for them, he said, adding that without shelters the homeless
become more visible.
Buddy Brousseau, the PIP executive director, said the PIP's location in
Worcester is similar to that of similar shelters in other New England
cities. And the city's homeless population, he said, is about equal per
capita to those in Providence, Springfield and other cities.
Mr. Brousseau said the PIP program is helping to develop about 75 housing
units for its clients -- places where homeless people can live and begin to
put their lives back together. All told, he said, the PIP program is
committed to providing its clients with 350-500 units. Depending on the
amount of federal grants received, about 30 units are to be created for the
homeless this year, he said.
Martha Burt of The Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., said housing is the
ultimate solution to chronic and temporary homelessness.
And Dennis Culhane of the University of Pennsylvania said a study of
programs in New York proves that there are cost savings involved that make
providing housing a no-lose situation for federal, state and local
Ms. Burt said the homeless are disproportionately black, just like the
nation's poor. Attacking poverty will have a spillover effect on
homelessness, she said.
And she said the homeless can be recognized early in life as they are far
more likely than the general population to have repeated a grade in school
or to have been expelled from school.
Mr. Culhane said that when significant numbers of the New York City homeless
were moved into housing in the last decade, there were precipitous drops in
the amount of stays by that population in state and public hospitals. The
cost savings reaped through those declining numbers, he said, made housing a
cost-effective option that government officials could not ignore.
**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.**
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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