Homelessness has a profound effect on the lives of thousands in our city who not only are faced with overwhelming obstacles and limited resources, but also battle the stereotypes of homelessness. Many have experienced considerable stress staying in multiple settings to avoid shelter life… doubling up in overcrowded apartments with relatives and friends or even living in abandoned buildings. Complex issues have led to their homelessness, but what they all have in common is insufficient financial resources to obtain or maintain housing. Most have incomes below the poverty level and, while many continue to receive some form of public assistance, many others are among the working poor. These include people who were barely able to scrape together the rent until someone lost a job or was hit by an unexpected medical expense.
But most disturbing is that homelessness is not just about adults who have lost their way; in fact close to half of the homeless are children caught in circumstances beyond their control. Children who, in addition to having their development, health and education severely impacted, are teased in school because of their situation and celebrate birthdays, holidays and graduations away from friends and other family members because its uncomfortable to have visitors at the shelters.
- Massachusetts ranks as the state with the ninth highest rate of homeless in the country.
- The number of people experiencing homelessness is continuing to rise.
- According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2013 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, there were 19,029 people in Massachusetts counted as experiencing homelessness during the January 2013 point-in-time counts conducted by the HUD Continua of Care across the state. Massachusetts saw the 5th highest increase in homelessness among all states between 2012-2013, according to the point-in-time (PIT) figures.
- As of February 11, 2015, there were over 4,500 families with children and pregnant women in Massachusetts’ Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter program. 1,438 of these families with children were being sheltered in motels. This number does not count those families who are doubled up, living in unsafe conditions, or sleeping in their cars.
- During state fiscal year 2014, 6,562 families were assisted with emergency shelter and/or HomeBASE household assistance, out of the 13,115 families who applied for assistance.
- 2013 data from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE), released in August 2014, estimates that 9,493 high school-aged students in public schools are experiencing homelessness on any given day in Massachusetts. These figures are derived from the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey responses. This number includes an estimated 4,085 unaccompanied high school students who are experiencing homelessness and not in the custody of their parent or legal guardian.
- ESE estimates that there are over 37,000 students of all ages experiencing homelessness who are enrolled in Massachusetts public schools. In the 2012-2013 academic year, public schools across Massachusetts were able to identify and serve 15,812 students who were experiencing homelessness.
- The number of individuals experiencing homelessness has more than doubled since 1990.
- On any given night in Massachusetts, the approximately 3,000 night shelter beds for individuals are usually full.