Letter to the editor: Fall River needs an additional homeless shelter with different qualifications
My name is Meredith, I am a student in the Master of Social Work Program at Bridgewater State University. I am writing to you regarding homelessness in Fall River, Massachusetts. According to the Fall River Community Development Agency, 361 Fall River residents were identified as homeless in 2022 with 60% being 18 years or older. Individuals are at risk of being unsheltered due to emergency shelters and cold weather overflow shelters being at capacity.
The Fall River Homeless Coalition lists only one shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness, The First Step Inn. The First Step Inn currently has 50 beds. I believe that to provide emergency shelter for a greater portion of unsheltered individuals, an additional homeless shelter facility is essential. A requirement of The First Step Inn is for guests to have identification proving their residency in Fall River. It can be very difficult, sometimes unfeasible, to obtain identification documents while being homeless, especially for those who are experiencing chronic homelessness and are constantly moving around. It is important to consider an alternative solution for individuals who do not have a Fall River address but are homeless in Fall River and seeking shelter. This would create lower barriers to obtaining necessary emergency shelter.
I recommend expanding shelter accommodation by renovating one of many vacant buildings in Fall River to increase the number of beds. The shelter should provide services, such as case management, to connect guests with housing programs, appropriate benefits and services that will support obtaining permanent housing and stabilization.
Per the Fall River Community Development Agency, black or African American people make up only 6% of the population in Fall River, however they account for almost 30% of the homeless population. It is imperative that people of color, as a current underserved community, are provided adequate housing support.
I encourage readers and policy makers in support of this request to contact Mayor Paul Coogan and the Fall River City Council. As a community, we must advocate to address homelessness for people living unsheltered.
Bridgewater State University, Master of Social Work Program
February 23, 2023 at 11:28 pm
Actually, Fall River does not need another ‘Homeless’ shelter and the City practically functions as an ‘open-air’ homeless shelter.
However, Marion does not have a homeless shelter and neither does Mattapoisett. Westport does not have a homeless shelter and Dartmouth as well as the Round Hill or Padanaram villages do not have homeless shelters.
Somerset and Swansea do not have homeless shelters. Neither Seekonk or Rehoboth have homeless shelters.
February 24, 2023 at 8:52 am
Thanks David for setting the record straight.
February 25, 2023 at 5:42 pm
You are correct. they have illegal immigrants swarming in and buying up the property thats causing homelessness and an inflated market.
February 24, 2023 at 10:19 am
Excellent opinion. I can see BSU is churning out geniuses. Just make a new one Fall River , you have empty buildings and while you’re at it forgive my student loans.
February 24, 2023 at 11:00 pm
Thats weird we just started to establish one under the overpass next to wow gym.