MA doing poor job fighting homelessness, REPORTS say FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Tue, 21 Dec 1999 16:45:11 -0800 (PST)


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FWD  Associated Press - AP Wire Service - Dec 20, 1999 16:32

REPORTS SAYS STATE DOING POOR JOB OF COMBATING HOMELESSNESS

By JEAN McMILLAN
Associated Press Writer

BOSTON (AP) _ The state spent $123 million this year on the
problem of homelessness, but did a poor job of coordinating its
services and devoted too much to providing emergency shelter
instead of preserving affordable housing, according to a new state
study.

``As the state continues to increase homeless shelter capacity
across the Commonwealth and provides significant levels of state
funding to address the problem of homelessness, the number of
citizens seeking emergency shelter services appears to be rising,''
read the report, conducted by the Executive Office for
Administration and Finance and released Monday.

The report found that state agencies were discharging people
without regard for their housing needs, there was no one central
agency coordinating efforts and a shortage of affordable housing
was putting pressure on the family shelter system.

``I think it's a fresh breath of honesty coming from the
state,'' said Philip Mangano, executive director of the
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, a coalition of 75
agencies across the state. ``They're very much on the right
track.''

The state report said a University of Massachusetts study had
estimated the number of homeless families increased by more than
100 percent to approximately 10,000 from 1990 to 1997.

And the number of homeless individuals increased by 70 percent
to approximately 22,000 during that time.

Mangano said 10 percent of homeless individuals are young
adults, ages 18 to 24 years old.

``More and more young adults are falling out of state systems,
especially foster care, and falling into homelessness,'' he said.

Mangano applauded the report's recommendation that state
departments, such as Youth Services, Corrections and others, do
more to address the housing needs of those they are discharging.

He said rents have skyrocketed such that ``the notion of an 18-
or 19-year-old being able to afford housing anymore just doesn't
make sense.''

Joseph Landolfi, spokesman for the Executive Office of
Administration and Finance, said Gov. Paul Cellucci has asked that
a task force be established as recommended to study short- and
long-term solutions.

``We're looking at this as a blueprint as to how we're going to
go forward,'' said Landolfi.

He said the task force will be chaired by undersecretary Peter
Forman and include representatives of state agencies and housing
and shelter providers.

Among its other recommendations, the report suggested that
Department of Transitional Assistance caseworkers be trained to
identify their clients' housing issues.

About $82 million, or two-thirds of the money the state spends,
was provided to DTA, which spends $69.4 million on emergency
shelter.

AP-ES-12-20-99 1730EST
Received  Id AP99354FD58020D on Dec 20 1999 16:32

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