Boston Homeless CENSUS up 10% in 1999, up 52% since 1989 count

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sun, 19 Dec 1999 15:38:02 -0800 (PST)


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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 16, 1999 15:49

     HOMELESS FIGURES ARE UP 10 PERCENT IN BOSTON

BOSTON (AP) _ Homeless levels in Boston are up 10 percent,
according to a census conducted by the mayor's office earlier this
week.

The count found 5,820 homeless men, women and children this
year, up from 5,272 homeless in 1998.

The numbers show a 52 increase in the city's homeless numbers
over the last decade, when a 1989 census found 3,830 homeless, city
officials said.

``Boston is experiencing an unprecedented economic boom, but
some of our citizens are literally being left out in the cold,''
Mayor Thomas Menino said in a statement.

``These figures represent a disturbing trend. I am committed to
continue to fight for the resources we need to provide shelter,
permanent housing, health care and employment opportunities for the
most vulnerable among us,'' he said.

About 200 volunteers scoured Boston parks, MBTA transit
stations, alleys and sidewalks Monday night, while others took a
head count at the city's 50 shelters.

The city will use the census results to apply for federal funds
and solicit private donations.

As they made their tally, the census-takers encouraged people on
the streets to go to shelters, offering to send a van to pick them
up. Those who refused were offered blankets.

In the city's family shelters, workers found 1,905 men, women
and children, compared to 1,604 last year, an increase of almost 19
percent.

Most troubling, officials said, is the dramatic rise in the
numbers of homeless children living in shelters.

In 1989, there were 556 homeless children. This year, counters
tallied 1,171 young people, an increase of 110 percent in the past
decade.

Kelley Cronin, director of the city's Emergency Shelter
Commission, said the lack of affordable housing was to blame for
the increase.

``It's the housing market, plain and simple, it's so tough to
find affordable housing,'' she said. ``Eventually the housing
market will slow down, but clearly there needs to be an effort to
create more affordable housing.''

Cronin said current programs to assist the homeless are being
funded, but there is no extra federal money for new affordable
housing.

She also said she was worried about what will happen when the
unseasonably mild weather turns colder.

``Our shelters are already strained to capacity,'' she said.
``And the cold will bring more people in.''

AP-ES-12-16-99 1649EST
Received  Id AP9935018A6A1D1 on Dec 16 1999 15:49

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