Homelessness is a major problem in the United States, and its impact has increased in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families experiencing homelessness may face major barriers to employment as well which only perpetuates that same cycle. Many states, cities, and local governments are struggling with how to address the problem, and help people. The City of Springfield, Massachusetts accepted a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), though at the time it wasn’t 100% sure clear they were going to put the funds towards.
Geraldine McCafferty, the city’s director of housing said that the grant funds will be awarded to community agencies that deal with homelessness.
People experiencing homelessness are at especially high risk of contracting COVID-19 due to the close quarters of shelters and the inability of people living outside to shelter in place. These funds are critical for providing a response that reduces the immediate risk while also assisting people to get back on the path to stable housing.”
The current situation with COVID-19 makes accessible, affordable housing an even more important prospect, especially because so many have had to stay home due to the lockdowns instituted to mitigate the risk of transmission from COVID-19. The grant in the amount of $3,951,604, was, according to McCafferty, triggered by the emergency need from the COVID-19 pandemic. The city council was previously awarded a grant of $1,160,338 in April to cover the immediate needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which covered costs of emergency hotel placements, rapid rehousing, and homelessness prevention.
McCafferty also said that some of the funds could go to provide an incentive for landlords who rent to the homeless. This grant funding is especially important because of the closure of a summer shelter on Taylor St, of which the homeless would benefit from these funds being allocated. Homeless people in the area have also faced issues because a lot of the buildings where they might spend the day, like coffee shops were closed during the lockdowns. She went on to say that they hope to get the funds out quickly to help those people as soon as possible, as the pandemic continues.
The City Council of Springfield has also received a grant in the amount of $446,089 from HUD to go help homeless youth up to the age of 25, which brings the total funding for that initiative to $1,268,267. Those funds have been awarded to Gandara Center and the Center for Human Development in Springfield.