Boston Mayor announces $2M plan to aid homeless families FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Mon, 2 Nov 1998 07:58:21 -0400


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=46WD  Boston Globe  10/26/98  page B03


$2M TO AID HUB HOMELESS FAMILIES
By Francie Latour, Boston Globe Staff


Yesterday was Susan's day in the spotlight.

She wore a simple black dress, a plain ponytail, and a cross hanging on a
chain. She wanted to look good standing straight behind an official podium,
before a bank of reporters, and beside the mayor of Boston.

The words Susan had to say took up a single page, and it seemed she would
sail through it - betraying none of the emotion behind her story of how she
became a homeless mother with a paying job.

But the last short paragraphs were the hardest. With the television cameras
bowed to protect her anonymity, Susan stopped herself twice, trying to
discipline rolling tears. She gripped the podium and read on.

``I kept praying to God for strength to get through the days. I got to work
every day and my son got to school every day. My son traveled from Malden,
he traveled from Dorchester, from Somerville, and Quincy during these weeks
and went to school every day. In spite of all this, he's doing well.

``The reason I'm here ... is because I'm not the only working homeless
mother,'' Susan said. She was almost finished. ``I pay taxes and I'm a
registered voter. What about me?''

That was the question echoed by advocates for the homeless and Mayor Thomas
M. Menino yesterday, as Menino announced a $2 million plan to stem the
crush of homeless families whose numbers are on a steady rise but who have
been obscured by a bullish good-news economy in Boston, statewide, and
nationwide.

Last winter 5,016 people were counted as homeless in Boston, up from 4,948
the previous year. A booming economy has increased rents that once were
within reach for many working poor, putting pressure on a public housing
stock that is squeezed and dwindling. Now, a city and a state that once
guaranteed a bed for every homeless person may not be able to keep that
promise.

The city's plan, announced at Boston Family Shelter in the South End,
provides $100,000 for families seeking housing to help with first and last
months' rent and moving costs, Section 8 certificates for 150 families, and
funding to temporarily house 25 families in hotels until they can find
shelter beds.

The plan will also streamline the process of linking homeless families to
available public housing, and create 98 units for families by arrangement
with developers.

Challenging the state to match the city's plan, Menino warned that all of
Massachusetts, not just Boston, will have to brace itself for a record-high
number of homeless families - a number that may swell again in December,
when as many as 8,000 families could lose welfare benefits.

Many of those families are caught in what city officials called an ironic
danger gap:
They earn too much to meet the requirements of state-run shelters but too
little to survive in a housing market where demand is high and rents have
soared.

Homeless shelters, which are run by the state, require that a mother of two
earn no more than $5.19 an hour - 4 cents over the minimum wage - to find a
bed. It is one of several strict criteria that keep many homeless families
from shelters, and it has forced some to choose between a paycheck and a
bed.

``For families just getting by, the line between having a home and being
homeless is very, very thin,'' Menino said. ``The state wants people to get
by on $6 per hour. Can anyone with a family of three live on that?
Impossible.''

Menino and others called for state officials to raise the limit on wages so
that homeless families making up to $8 per hour can find shelter.

They also challenged officials to inject more compassion into a state-run
shelter system that imposes strict limits on its applicants. In addition to
the wage limit, the state requires applicants to prove they have exhausted
all housing possibilities with relatives and friends.

Yesterday, one advocate said, that requirement led state officials to track
down the high school friend of a homeless woman who had not heard from her
in 15 years.

``I hope and pray that the state responds to this challenge,'' said Sister
Margaret Leonard, a founder of Homes for Families.

[This story ran on page B03 of the Boston Globe on 10/26/98]

END FORWARD
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

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=46WD  Boston Globe  10/26/98  page B03



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>$2M TO AID HUB HOMELESS FAMILIES

By Francie Latour, Boston Globe Staff

</paraindent>


Yesterday was Susan's day in the spotlight.=20


She wore a simple black dress, a plain ponytail, and a cross hanging on
a chain. She wanted to look good standing straight behind an official
podium, before a bank of reporters, and beside the mayor of Boston.=20


The words Susan had to say took up a single page, and it seemed she
would sail through it - betraying none of the emotion behind her story
of how she became a homeless mother with a paying job.=20


But the last short paragraphs were the hardest. With the television
cameras bowed to protect her anonymity, Susan stopped herself twice,
trying to discipline rolling tears. She gripped the podium and read on.



``I kept praying to God for strength to get through the days. I got to
work every day and my son got to school every day. My son traveled from
Malden, he traveled from Dorchester, from Somerville, and Quincy during
these weeks and went to school every day. In spite of all this, he's
doing well.=20


``The reason I'm here ... is because I'm not the only working homeless
mother,'' Susan said. She was almost finished. ``I pay taxes and I'm a
registered voter. What about me?''


That was the question echoed by advocates for the homeless and Mayor
Thomas M. Menino yesterday, as Menino announced a $2 million plan to
stem the crush of homeless families whose numbers are on a steady rise
but who have been obscured by a bullish good-news economy in Boston,
statewide, and nationwide.=20


Last winter 5,016 people were counted as homeless in Boston, up from
4,948 the previous year. A booming economy has increased rents that
once were within reach for many working poor, putting pressure on a
public housing stock that is squeezed and dwindling. Now, a city and a
state that once guaranteed a bed for every homeless person may not be
able to keep that promise.=20


The city's plan, announced at Boston Family Shelter in the South End,
provides $100,000 for families seeking housing to help with first and
last months' rent and moving costs, Section 8 certificates for 150
families, and funding to temporarily house 25 families in hotels until
they can find shelter beds.=20


The plan will also streamline the process of linking homeless families
to available public housing, and create 98 units for families by
arrangement with developers.=20


Challenging the state to match the city's plan, Menino warned that all
of Massachusetts, not just Boston, will have to brace itself for a
record-high number of homeless families - a number that may swell again
in December, when as many as 8,000 families could lose welfare
benefits.=20


Many of those families are caught in what city officials called an
ironic danger gap:

They earn too much to meet the requirements of state-run shelters but
too little to survive in a housing market where demand is high and
rents have soared.=20


Homeless shelters, which are run by the state, require that a mother of
two earn no more than $5.19 an hour - 4 cents over the minimum wage -
to find a bed. It is one of several strict criteria that keep many
homeless families from shelters, and it has forced some to choose
between a paycheck and a bed.=20


``For families just getting by, the line between having a home and
being homeless is very, very thin,'' Menino said. ``The state wants
people to get by on $6 per hour. Can anyone with a family of three live
on that? Impossible.''


Menino and others called for state officials to raise the limit on
wages so that homeless families making up to $8 per hour can find
shelter.=20


They also challenged officials to inject more compassion into a
state-run shelter system that imposes strict limits on its applicants.
In addition to the wage limit, the state requires applicants to prove
they have exhausted all housing possibilities with relatives and
friends.=20


Yesterday, one advocate said, that requirement led state officials to
track down the high school friend of a homeless woman who had not heard
from her in 15 years.=20


``I hope and pray that the state responds to this challenge,'' said
Sister Margaret Leonard, a founder of Homes for Families.=20


[This story ran on page B03 of the Boston Globe on 10/26/98]


END FORWARD=20

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is=
 distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in=
 receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. *=
*


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink=
=2Enet>

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