SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Throughout this long winter of record-breaking cold and snow, many people have taken the approach of, ‘if you don’t have to go outside, don’t.’ However, what about those who don’t have a choice?
This February was one of our most bitterly cold months ever, and Friends of the Homeless saw an urgent, overwhelming need for their services. “I think he last month and a half we’ve been averaging around 170 to a 175 or so which is very crowded for us. We’ve opened up our dining room and added cots in there. That kind of thing,” said director Bill Miller.’
Western Massachusetts is home to 13% of the state’s homeless population. Our region gets just 7% of the funding. That 6% difference would mean another $2.5 million dollars for services here. In comparison, 38% of Massachusetts’ homeless population lives near Boston, but 65% of state resources stay in and around the city.
Miller traveled to Boston Monday to advocate for the needs of our region. He’d like to see the creation of a statewide formula that distributes funding based on the number of people served. But he said at the end of the day it’s about more than dollar signs.
“I have to say I did lose some sleep during that ultra cold weather because you’re making choices and people could live or die,” Miller said.