The Network issued a press release yesterday (copied below), highlighting the 47% drop over six months in the number of families living in Western Mass. hotels. Congratulations to our Network partners for making this progress possible!
Click on the links below for the area media coverage:
Springfield Republican: “Number of homeless families living in hotels and motels drops 47% in Western Massachusetts”
Masslive.com (press release posted on website): “Number of homeless families living in motels drops to 164”
WFCR (NPR Affiliate for 3 counties): “Fewer MA Homeless Families in Motels”
CBS – Channel 3: “Families Move From Hotels to Apartments”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pamela Schwartz, Director, Western Mass. Network to End Homelessness, 413-219-5658
Consumer contact: Yvonne Villigran (formerly resided in motel; now in own home)
413-315-9940 (available as of 12 noon, Mon-Fri, all day on weekends)
HOMELESS FAMILIES IN MOTELS DROP 47% AS FAMILIES REHOUSED
Since January, the number of families living in motels in Western Massachusetts declined from 312 to 164, a drop of 47 percent, according to a new analysis by the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness (“Network”).
Statewide, the number has dropped by 33 percent, from 982 to 661 families living in motels. The percentage of families from Western Massachusetts declined from 32% to 25% over the six month period. Please see attached charts for additional reference.
The Network attributes its success to coordinated state and federally funded rehousing and prevention efforts across the region. “We are witnessing what can happen when we put housing first,” said Lynne Wallace, the Network co-chair and vice-president of Dietz & Co. Architects. “When you make housing the solution and have the resources to preserve and provide it, you reduce homelessness,” noted Wallace.
Since the federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program (HPRP) funds became available in January, area housing providers have assisted 157 families in exiting the motels and 123 families in exiting shelters to enter permanent housing. This program, in conjunction with state resources through the Network’s prevention and rehousing resources, have also prevented 1,259 families in the Hampden County area from becoming homeless.
“We are seeing directly what the combination of resources plus collaboration can do,” said Pamela Schwartz, director of the Network. Schwartz described how area housing agencies, including HAPHousing, New England Farm Workers Council, Center for Human Development and Valley Opportunity Council, are working together to ensure that families are getting the services they need and entering housing as quickly as possible. “The coordinated approach is key to our success,” Schwartz said.
“We’re all making this happen with multiple approaches at once,” noted Tom Salter, housing director for New England Farm Workers. “Where possible, we are moving families directly out of motels into housing; at the same time, we are rapidly moving families out of shelters into housing and in so doing, creating space for families living in motels to move into shelters to get the support services they need. Then they can move more quickly into housing, too.”
“And alongside all the rehousing efforts,” Salter continued, “the prevention work with families at risk of losing their homes has been critical to stemming the flow of families entering motels or shelters at all.”
“Everyone deserves credit for this effort, since none of us could have achieved this result alone,” said Peter Gagliardi, executive director of HAPHousing, a Network partner.
Schwartz also noted that the average cost of renting an apartment is $874/month while the cost of housing a family in shelter is $2,550 per month. “Providing housing as quickly as possible serves families and taxpayers alike,” Schwartz said.
As the state and federal resources begin to dwindle, the concern about continuing this downward trend is rising. Jim Reis, associate director of HAPHousing said that its agency’s HPRP rehousing money is close to zero now, and when the money runs out, they will have to rely exclusively on far slimmer state and city resources to rehouse families. “Rapid rehousing works,” Reis noted, “but you can’t make housing happen without the dollars to support it.”