HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Local leaders and community members gathered at Holyoke Community College on Friday as part of a call to action to respond to the homelessness crisis in western Massachusetts.

It comes as new data is released detailing how pervasive homelessness is in our region. The numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development show that throughout the state’s four western counties, more than 3,000 people are counted as homeless. A total that is higher than any point in the last 15 years and up 24-percent from 2021. The data also shows that homelessness continues to disproportionately impact people of color.

“We see that while whites are 70-percent of the general population, they’re only 27-percent of the homeless population. Because Blacks are 4.6 times more likely to experience homelessness than how many there are in the population. And, Hispanics are 2.9 times greater,” expressed the Director of Housing for the City of Springfield, Gerry McAfferty.

Adding to the issue, evictions filing in western Massachusetts at a 4-year-high with nearly 2,000 in 2023 so far. A coalition of state legislators, town managers, and local mayors are all hoping to use this information as a springboard to reduce homelessness in their communities.