State agencies, legislators discuss ways to end homelessness in western Mass.

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HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – Multiple state agencies and legislators gathered in Holyoke Monday morning for a workshop to end homelessness in western Massachusetts.

Homelessness continues to be a major problem in western Massachusetts. According to a federal report, the Massachusetts homeless population increased by 14 percent in 2018.

Dozens of state agencies and legislators gathered at Holyoke Community College Monday morning for a workshop to end homelessness in the region.

Pamela Schwartz, Director of The Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness told 22News that access to healthcare and livable wage jobs are the two main factors that impact homelessness.

“Between the providers who are serving the community and state legislators, we have a cross-section of what it takes to come together and assist people and ensure we have a system to make homelessness as rare and brief as it deserves to be,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz said one of the groups that are most impacted are young adults ages 18 to 24.

More than 600 young adults are currently homeless in western Massachusetts, but progress is being made. More than 100 people ages 18 to 24 have been housed within the past six months.

State Senator Jo Comerford said the proposed Senate version of the state budget includes a significant amount of housing and homelessness related funding.

“I’m hopeful that house members fight as hard as we did in the Senate and that permanent housing should be a right and that homelessness needs to be rare and non-occurring,” Comerford said.

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