BOSTON — Homelessness in Massachusetts increased by 5 percent between January 2011 and January 2012, and has jumped 16 percent since 2007, according to a new report (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
And Robyn Frost, executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, said the trend isn’t likely to change.
“We don’t anticipate that number going down whatsoever,” Frost said. “We actually anticipate more problems for families just because our state has changed some of the state regulations for families to get into shelters.”
In addition to a weak economy, Frost said the state Department of Housing and Community Development’s new eligibility requirements (PDF), some of which just went into effect, sharply increased the demand for housing.
“The numbers of people calling, looking for housing, looking for a way to maintain their housing, or have lost their jobs, has never been as high as we’ve seen during this past recession period,” Frost said. “We’ve never had as many families calling who don’t have a place to go, who are living in their car or in other areas. That’s not something that we saw, not just in the last five years, but we hadn’t even seen that in the last 20 years.”
Frost said more permanent affordable housing and higher levels of federal funding are needed.
“Speaking out to our legislators, mostly on the federal level, and really having to look at how they can start directing long-term Section 8 vouchers into states,” Frost said.