The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness has assembled a group to address the consequences of living in poverty.

“As we head into the colder months, I think all of our eyes and our hearts are focused on this topic even more than ever,” said Senator-Elect Jo Comerford of the Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester District.

There are thousands of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness in western Massachusetts.

Comerford told 22News, “We haven’t bounced back fully from the economic crisis. There is still a scarcity of jobs. There’s the intersection of a lack of really robust public transportation. We’re a rural area, so it actually exacerbates these issues.”

A new report released by the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness shows on one night during the last week of January 2018, 2,899 people experienced homelessness in western Massachusetts.

“We had issues of homelessness this summer even here in Greenfield and it was really brought into light how shelter is the first and most important opportunity for needs to be met,” said Keleigh Pereira of the Greenfield Housing Authority.

Proposed strategies include working with housing authorities, building partnerships with hospitals and police departments, and expanding youth programs.    

There were also talks of increasing re-housing resources to families in domestic violence shelters.