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McCafferty stands by city’s homeless initiatives

May 22, 2014 |

By G. Michael Dobbs

SPRINGFIELD – In reaction to remarks made last week at the 10th anniversary of Sanctuary City, Director of Housing Geraldine McCafferty explained what the city has been able to accomplish in housing the homeless.

At the observation of the tent city raised by the homeless, Michaelann Bewsee of Arise for Social Justice said the city has only been able to place 274 people in housing with supportive services in the last 10 years.

While McCafferty said that number was correct, she explained there are different solutions for homeless people based on their situations.

She noted the “vast majority” of people who are homeless resolve their living arrangements within 30 days. The city’s Housing First program, which placed the 274 people, focuses on “chronically homeless people” who require supportive services. The result has been decreasing the people living on the street and lessening the need for shelter space for that population, she said.

The use of motels to house families was also brought up at the observation on May 13, and McCafferty noted those homeless families fall under a state program rather than a municipal one, although she added the city is working on some local solutions.

She said the “rapid re-housing” efforts have shown that some homelessness can be prevented by a matter of a sum of money for several months rent.

“It’s been very effective,” she said. 

McCafferty noted the rapid re-housing approach could prevent some of the long-term stays families are having in motel rooms paid for by the state. Connecting family members with job opportunities has also shown to help end the motel stays.

She noted the foreclosure crisis that started in 2008 with the financial collapse caused some homelessness among people who rented. The owners of the properties often walked away from their buildings causing their tenants to be removed when foreclosure took place. 

Homeless advocates have also seen that school dropout rates are tied with unemployment rates and homelessness, she said. A lack of skills for the job market could exacerbate homelessness.

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