Homelessness in the State: Permanent Solutions versus Quick Fixes

The Massachusetts policy for housing the homeless in hotels is now in the spotlight for its inefficiency after several incidents of crime, the most troubling of which involved the endangerment and death of a child.  To end the problem of homelessness—to truly end it, not just placate it for the time being— we have to not only get those in need off the streets but into sustainable living situations, and with the resources they need to rebuild their lives.

The state spends about $2 million a month to house the 800 to 900 families that partake in the program. The way the money is being spent now, the solution is temporary at best and detrimental at worst; it’s harder to secure a job or even an interview for one without a permanent address, and it is also emotionally taxing on the families to not have a place to call their own. Here in Springfield, the number of homeless people is nearly double what it was two years ago, and the city’s Housing Department is placing people in hotels because the shelters are full. There is a general consensus that this policy is wholly ineffective, but the question is, what’s the best solution, considering budget constraints and the immediate need for a system that works?

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Fighting Crime with Community Involvement

Among urban cities where crime is a constant threat to the community’s prosperity, an increasingly important aspect of crime prevention is the connection and cooperation of residents with enforcement authorities. Government officials need community involvement to make the most of their efforts to fight crime and community members need to feel confident that their police force and government officials are looking out for their well-being in order to cooperate with them.

To that end, the City of Springfield launched two crime-prevention measures earlier this month. The first, Operation Blue Knight, launches police into high-crime neighborhoods to patrol and engage with residents to create healthy relationships and foster communication between the two.  In a press conference on June 3rd, Police Commissioner Fitchet said the patrols are models for future “Blue Knight deployments,” where one neighborhood at a time is saturated with police force, rather than the entire city.

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