Homelessness is on the rise across western Massachusetts but steps are being taken to get the homeless out of shelters and into permanent housing.
ServiceNet said they are doing their best to help the homeless in Greenfield, despite having a shelter that’s usually always full.
When you’re homeless, finding shelter is a daily task. Last year, homeless people set up tents on the Greenfield town common and in the woods off Colrain Street, property owned by Greenfield’s Mayor.
Madeline Malloy, who is homeless, told 22News more people are living in tents because local shelters don’t have enough space, “We’re here because there aren’t other options. I live in a car, I live in a tent, I live where I have to live because I don’t have a choice.”
ServiceNet runs the Wells Street Shelter and the Family Inn on Federal Street, but it can take weeks to get off the shelter’s waiting list.
The Wells Street Shelter in Greenfield opens its doors at 4:30PM each day. They can accommodate up to 6 women and 14 men but they must sleep in their own separate dorms. Even when they reach their maximum capacity, ServiceNet said they’ll still take people in emergencies.
Steve Karpovich, Program Director of Wells Street Shelter, told 22News, “Right now we have 40 people on our waiting list, we simply can’t accept everyone, if the weather is particularly bad or someone is vulnerable we will accept them in. but they may have to sleep on a couch or in a chair.”
Karpovich said guests typically stay no more than 90 days at the Wells Street shelter.
The city is exploring how to increase the number of housing options for the homeless, but they said it’s going to take time.
“There was a suggestion that the Town of Greenfield runs a separate shelter operation but that’s a slippery slope because our goal for people who are need of services is to connect them with those services that are there,” said MJ Adams, community development administrator in Greenfield.
At least 300 people used Franklin County shelters in 2017. About half of them secured permanent housing within the year.