A new study focusing on Massachusetts homelessness says the state should have a special homelessness secretary, expand the stock of affordable housing and increase investment in services that provide a path to increased incomes and economic mobility for the underserved.
The number of homeless families in Massachusetts increased by 94 percent between January 2007 and January 2014 — from 2,468 families to 4,781 families — according to the study which was published by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. At present, there are 4,900 families with children living in shelters or motels.
The study, released Wednesday, says that housing production has not kept pace with demand in Massachusetts resulting in some of the highest construction costs in the country. Housing construction has slowed in the state since the 1980s and almost 17,000 new homes are needed each year in the state to support the current base of employment.
In 2013, about 14,500 units were built in the state. The association is now saying the state should expand both the stock of affordable housing, in addition to increasing the number of rental assistance vouchers for households with low incomes.
To deal with such a population, the study recommends appointing a special secretary to build “a coordinated service delivery system across government departments.”
The state should also collect and analyze data to track progress of state agencies and their nonprofit partners toward a predetermined goals of housing stability and economic mobility.