State lawmakers consider expanding housing options for homeless residents

Boston Statehouse

BOSTON (WWLP) – Right now, homeless people in the state of Massachusetts are offered beds at congregate care settings, or shelters, where they have to live with dozens of other people. Lawmakers this session want to switch to a housing plan that promotes long term stability.

State Representative Natalie Higgins has filed a bill that would provide homeless residents with their own living space.

Over the next 5 years Higgins wants to see the Commonwealth close down some of it’s shelters and move to a model that houses the homeless in old hotels and other municipal buildings.

“Their might be spaces already available, either hotels that have high vacancies that you could rent a block of rooms,” Rep. Higgins told 22News.

In Western Massachusetts, this model was used to house some of the homeless residents during the pandemic and now public health advocates are pushing to make some of these housing options permanent.

“If we really want to end homelessness as quickly and as successfully as possible we need to have non congregate shelter as a very significant part of our response system,” Pamela Schwartz said.

There is strong opposition to this bill. Some argue that it will move homeless people out of the areas they are familiar with and that their presence could threaten the public health and safety of others.

However, supporters remain steadfast in their belief that this is the best way to end homelessness in Massachusetts, and they say this plan will ultimately save the tax payers some money.

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