Worcester, Massachusetts Deals With Growing Homeless Population | NECN


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Worcester, Massachusetts Deals With Growing Homeless Population

City recently discussed possibility of a "sanctioned homeless camp"



    The city of Worcester, Massachusetts, is trying to deal with a growing homeless population. (Published Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016)

    The city of Worcester, Massachusetts, is dealing with a growing homeless problem with dozens of camps scattered in various areas.

    "I was homeless for a year on the streets of Worcester," said a man named Jerry, "No one sees us here."

    Under the shadows of the train tracks, tucked behind a partially finished and forgotten skate park, covered in graffiti, trash, and abandoned tires is one of Worcester's many homeless camps.

    "That's actually someone's bedroom, that's pretty sad," said Jerry.

    Flattened cardboard boxes on broken wooden crates are what more than a dozen people call home in one area necn visited.

    It's a problem city officials say they're taking very seriously, but one that cities like Worcester have struggled to get under control.

    "There's so many people that they can't pay all the attention that they need so people ending up starting this process and then they end up floundering," said Chris, who was homeless for 2 1/2 years.

    Recently, the city discussed the possibility of a "sanctioned homeless camp" with bathroom facilities, social services and police for protection.

    "Having them do something like that would be great but it just don't see it happening because there's frankly too many of us," said Dan, who has been homeless for four years.

    City Manager Edward Augustus said the issue was brought up.

    "The city of Worcester does not plan to establish any kind of homeless camp," Augustus said. "Homelessness is a multi-faceted problem, involving many underlying issues including our national opioid epidemic, and does not lend itself to one-size-fits-all solutions."

    That's why some people directly affected by this say they wish the city would spend more time and money on those targeted approaches, instead of crowded shelters and services that exclude people with underlying problems.

    "Part of the reason why I'm homeless is because I can't get a job, part of the reason why I can't get a job is because I'm homeless," said Dan.

    "They'll find you housing but they're not fixing you, some people need medicine, some people couldn't even manage a checkbook so why are you going to put them in an apartment, that's only going to fail," Jerry said.

    Augustus says it recently hired a homeless outreach coordinator, who is working alongside its new Quality of Life Task Force to visit homeless camps, identify chronically homeless people, and track the services that are actually being used.

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