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Local Politicians, Volunteers Serve Boston's Homeless On Thanksgiving

Eighty-three turkeys, 700 pounds of mashed potatoes and 50 gallons of stuffing provided a Thanksgiving feast for hundreds of homeless people in Boston on Thursday, courtesy of The Pine Street Inn.

President and Executive Director of the shelter, Lyndia Downey, said the effort is a reminder that homelessness remains a stubborn challenge in the city of Boston.

"There aren't more individual people showing up in shelter, but they are staying much longer, and that's driving up the over all number," Downey said. "It's what's forcing us to add overflow beds for the winter, for example. Ten people show up and there's no place to put them except on the floor."

Downey blames persistent homelessness on Boston's expensive housing market as well as a shortage of affordable housing and mental health services.

Mayor Marty Walsh, Senate President Stan Rosenberg and City Councillor Tito Jackson were also among the 200 volunteers who prepared the 2,000 Thanksgiving meals.

Walsh says, although the city has helped many people find permanent housing, chronic homelessness remains a challenge for many in Boston.

"Literally, the last two years, we've housed 800 chronically homeless veterans, we've housed another 200 people on top of that," Walsh said. "But as you come to the Pine Street Inn, you see the need is still there and there's still such a need."

Walsh says substance abuse, mental health issues and the high cost of housing all contribute to homelessness in Boston.

WBUR's Anthony Brooks contributed reporting to this story.

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