Homeless families in Massachusetts. (Yes, this is a real problem.)

February 26, 2017

We’ve been working with homeless families for nearly thirty years, so it’s no news to us that homelessness is a very real and very persistent problem. Still, we were a bit taken aback when we saw that the Boston Foundation is reporting that, across the state, the number of homeless families has more than doubled over the past nine years.

More than 33,000 families — or more than 100,000 people — have spent at least one night in a homeless shelter since 2008, said the report, which analyzed the statewide housing trends of families.Families make up more than half the state’s homeless population, a reality in only one other state (New York), according to the report. (Source: Boston Globe)

The fact that family homelessness is a statewide problem is one of the reasons why, each year, we’ve been going further beyond the city of Boston to invite kids and families who don’t have a place to call their own to join us at our annual Christmas in the City party.

“While most of this report focuses on numbers and percentages, it is impossible to read it without thinking about the people behind the statistics: the families, especially the children, whose heartbreaking struggles with homelessness are influencing virtually everything about their lives and their futures,” Paul S. Grogan, president of the foundation, wrote in the report.

We couldn’t agree more. The struggles that homeless families go through are heartbreaking.

Even though, as the report has found, the state is beginning to make some small strides towards reducing homelessness among families – and is working to eliminate the use of motels and hotels to house families – there are still far too many people who are on the outside looking in at general comfort and prosperity that most of us in Massachusetts are fortunate enough to enjoy.

No, we don’t see homeless families living on the streets of Boston, as we do so many adults. But that doesn’t mean that they’re permanently housed. Most are in shelter situations and, while those living in shelters are safe and cared for, there’s no substitute for having a real place to call home.

With more affordable housing, better support for those transitioning from homelessness, and better support for the working poor, this problem can be solved.

In the meantime, we’ll continue to do our part, helping families in need throughout the year, and, come Christmas-time, making sure that the kids who are dealing with the difficult circumstance of being homeless have one glorious and exciting time for themselves at our party. (By the way, if anyone’s wondering, planning is already underway for the 2017 edition of CITC.)

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