Sunday, December 9, 2007

So how many homeless are there?

First of all thanks to the generosity of readers to the blog we are halfway to the goal of getting my son a laptop for Christmas. Thank you so much.

So just how many people are homeless in the Boston area? I don't think anybody really knows for sure. Both Boston and Cambridge conduct a census every year and the numbers they announce are laughable.

For example last year this article appeared in the Globe

Police aim to keep criminals out of shelters

Mayor also plans new initiative on the homeless

The annual homeless census has been completed and shows an increase from last year's count of 261, said Jim Greene , director of the city's Emergency Shelter Commission.

261 in the City of Boston????? Are they nuts??????

The article also gives one of the reasons some people would rather sleep outside.
Shelter employees have said some homeless people, after cashing Social Security or unemployment checks, were robbed by others staying in the shelter.

Cambridge also does a census and while the numbers seem low they certainly are more accurate than Boston.

Census finds 22 more homeless people in Cambridge than last year

There are 455 homeless people in Cambridge, 22 more than in 2006, according to the census, conducted in January. Nearly 12 percent of those individuals were not in any sort of shelter.

Although this year’s increase may reflect more temperate weather—there was a snowstorm during last year’s survey—it might also demonstrate that homelessness is increasing, or that more people have relocated to Cambridge because of a lack of services in other areas, according to Meghan Goughan, director of the Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol and Drug Rehabilitation’s First Step Street Outreach Program

Before I got sick I traveled a bit and I don't think the problem is as bad as cities like San Francisco and Seattle where the homeless seem to be everywhere but it still is a problem here in the Boston area. Boston and Cambridge also attract homeless people from other cities. Brookline has no homeless services to speak of yet you can't tell me they have no homeless people.

The City of Cambridge has a handbook for being homeless in Cambridge and details all the services available. I think many readers will be astonished at what is available.

Resource Guide for Persons Homeless in Cambridge (PDF)

Boston has many options and here are some links.

Pine Street Inn

Friends of Boston's Homeless

Boston Rescue Mission

St. Francis House

Shattuck Shelter

Rosie's Place

The City of Boston runs 2 large shelters which frankly are scary.

Woods Mullen Shelter
Woods Mullen Shelter is an emergency shelter operated by Boston Public Health Commission Homeless Services Bureau. Woods Mullen Shelter is located at the corner of Melina Cass Boulevard and Massachusetts Avenue near the Boston Medical Center. Woods Mullen Shelter provides food, emergency clothing, health care and case management services for anyone who is in need. We are open 24 hours. We have190 beds available for adults 18 and over (124 beds for men and 66 for women). Tickets are given out on a first come first serve basis beginning at 3:30 pm.
The other one is located in the MIDDLE of Boston Harbor
Long Island Shelter
There are 386 beds available for adults 18 and over (333 for men and 53 for women). Transportation is provided from our intake site at 784 Rear MassachusettsAvenue (Woods Mullen Shelter) from 3:00pm to 7:00pm daily. MBTA buses transport guests from Long Island Shelter back to Boston every morning.,Breakfast,lunch and dinner meals are served to guest in our beautiful diningroom overlooking the City of Boston Skyline.

In Cambridge there are 2 long term shelters that I am waiting for something to open up

First Church Shelter

Shelter, Inc.

In Somerville
Somerville Homeless Coalition

In Quincy and Brockton

Father Bills & MainSpring

In Waltham

Bristol Lodge

Statewide list of shelters

My hope is that by reading this and checking out the links I can make people aware at just how bad things are out there. Based on my observations I would say half the homeless will be that way for the rest of their lives. They have given up. That will not happen to me.

Some scam the system. One trick I was told about is to show up at an emergency room and say you want to 'kill yourself' and the state will hold a person for a week or more at $2-3,000 a day of taxpayer money. People do this just to get 3 meals and a cot and makes it harder for people who really need psychiatric care to get a bed.

Thanks for reading.


margalit said...

None of the census's account for the people displaced and homeless that are living in other people's basements, garages, etc. Our family was homeless for 9 months, but we lived in a woman's basement so we didn't really 'count' as homeless, although we were.

It's just another way for the state to not cough up the money for more subsidized housing for the poor, and it isn't going to change until the federal government changes the poverty rates and the way they are deemed. They'll still using data from 1964, which is ridiculous, and they do not account for cost of living in certain expensive geographical areas. When the federal government changes the poverty rates, there will be more housing.

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