Baker tackles homelessness in FY16 budget

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BOSTON (WWLP) – Governor Charlie Baker hopes to catch families before they become homeless, through a series of initiatives included in his fiscal 2016 budget.

State Representative Michael Finn (D-West Springfield) said “once people get to the stage where they’re homeless and their families are in need, it’s harder to get them out if it.”

There are approximately 222 families currently living in homeless hotels and motels in Western Massachusetts. The Baker administration estimates that it could cost taxpayers more than $40 million to shelter families in hotels this fiscal year. That is more than $110,000 each day.

“Families living in homeless hotels and motels is not a safe thing for obviously the families, for the community, it’s certainly not a benefit for the taxpayer,” said State Sen. Jim Welch (D-West Springfield).

Governor Baker’s budget proposal will include $20 million for a new fund aimed at homelessness prevention and moving 5,000 families out of hotels and shelters. Last week, the Baker administration identified an estimated budget gap of $1.5 billion, making it difficult to spend any extra money.

“I think it’s going to be very challenging to look for 20-million dollars that are available for the homeless, but again, we’re in the early stages of it,” said Ludlow Democrat Thomas Petrolati.

The Governor plans to file his version of the fiscal 2016 budget on Wednesday.

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