Regional, state, and local officials meeting on homelessness

  • Signs were placed on the Greenfield Common in late August when city officials shut down a homeless camp that had sprung up in early summer, eventually growing to about 20 people. File photo

Staff Writer
Published: 11/12/2018 4:33:50 PM

GREENFIELD — While the homelessness issue was on full display on the Greenfield Common this summer, the issue isn’t limited to Greenfield or Franklin County.

On Friday, about 100 people, from politicians to service providers, will gather at Greenfield Community College to discuss homelessness in western Mass.

Research concerning the issue, and how to help people stay out of homelessness in the first place, will be presented by the organizer of the event, the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness.

“The process of extending the invitation to join in this dialogue and hearing back is already an extraordinary commitment to address this issue across our region,” said Pamela Schwartz, the network’s director.

The summit came about as Schwartz was looking for a way to bring together the new crop of elected officials in the region, all from the Upper Pioneer Valley, and educate them on ways to effectively legislate toward ending homelessness.

Included among the expected elected state officials will be state Rep. Natalie Blais, state Sen. Jo Comerford, and representatives from the offices of state Rep. Paul Mark and state Sen. Adam Hinds. In total, there are an expected 14 elected state officials, or representatives from their offices, to be at GCC.

In addition, there are 14 city officials expected to be in attendance, like MJ Adams from Greenfield Mayor William Martin’s office, and the mayors of Northampton, Easthampton, Holyoke, North Adams, Pittsfield, West Springfield. There will also be representatives from South Hadley, Springfield and Westfield.

Further, there will be Greenfield City Council President Karen “Rudy” Renaud and fellow councilors Tim Dolan and Otis Wheeler.

The directors of housing authorities from Greenfield, Northampton, Springfield, Chicopee, Holyoke, Pittsfield and North Adams are also expected.

Other local officials will include Franklin County Sheriff Christopher Donelan and Greenfield Community College President Yves Salomon-Fernandez.

The list continues with people from state agencies and other providers.

Schwartz says they will discuss “what are the most effective strategies that we can do, across all of our communities, to house all of these individuals.” Schwartz said there is a “blueprint” and it isn’t “mysterious to what we can do to prevent homelessness,” but all the vested parties need to be headed in the same direction to efficiently work toward solutions.

“The measure of success here is everyone who leaves the room knows the next steps that they can take to continue this work,” Schwartz said.


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