The same day that Lowell was hosting a conference, one of four, on steps toward ending homelessness in ten years (Friday, 6 November 2009), The Patrick Administration announced cuts in support to homelessness programs. It was covered the next day in The Boston Globe.
The cut was $2.7 million, out of a total Commonwealth budget gap of $600 million. But, that $2.7 million might well cost us a lot more in the long run. The fact is, having people in shelters and in beds saves us money in terms of the overall cost of dealing with the fallout from homelessness. Remember, taking people off the streets and putting them in their own apartments cuts ER costs in half.
If you want a practical reason to be concerned, think about the fact that we are in an economic downturn, which means more people heading for the streets, and we need to have a cost-effective way of dealing with this problem. Some of our current approaches to the homeless problem are not cost-effective.
Here is Joe Finn talking about this cut from the Patrick Administration
“The money is spread so thinly already; I don’t know how they can expect us to keep the amount of shelters we have now,’’ said Joe Finn, executive director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, which represents 85 homeless programs around the state.Joe Finn is a hard working person. He attends our monthly Executive Committee meetings here in Lowell on the issue of homelessness. He is always a positive contributor.
Finn predicted that about 500 beds, 17 percent of the 3,000 state-subsidized beds for homeless individuals in the state, will be eliminated.
“This is a tremendous setback to our plans to end homelessness in the state,’’ Finn said. “We hope the state restores the money.’’
Think of this as either a moral issue or an economic issue, but it is an issue and one we need to be addressing.
As a friend of mine suggests, our goal should be that every homeless person becomes a taxpayer. Something to shoot for.
Regards — Cliff