Local shelters face new challenges as coronavirus pandemic continues


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Commonwealth has one of the significant homeless populations in the country, and shelters are dealing with new challenges as the pandemic continues.

Massachusetts currently ranks sixth in the nation when it comes to homelessness. According to the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, the total homeless population in the state currently stands at 18,471, with the majority being families with children.

22News spoke with the director of the Friends of The Homeless Shelter in Springfield who said although they’ve done a good job in assisting the homeless population in our area, the homeless population could grow significantly in the coming months.

“That could come further down the road as it continues to hit people,” said Bill Miller, executive director of the shelter. “People are digging into the last of their resources, whatever that might be, hopefully, this last round of federal aid hits quickly.”

Miller is optimistic about handling the demand. He told 22News that the shelter is considered part of the Tier 1B group for vaccines which could help make their jobs easier. Miller also mentioned the possibility of a new federal relief check could provide some much-needed assistance for those in need.

“That’s enough for another couple months rent possibly, or for people in shelter that could be enough to help them make that next step up and outward,” said Miller.

President Trump is currently asking for an amendment of the relief bill that would increase the amount from $600 to $2,000 or $4,000 for a couple.



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