By George P. Hassett
Somerville will receive $1.5 million in Housing and Urban Development grants as part of Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone’s plan to end homelessness in Somerville within 10 years.
“The task is monumental but our community must be persistent on it,” Curtatone said. Federal grants require municipalities to work out a plan to end homelessness within a decade in order to be eligible for federal funding, Curtatone said.
Curtatone said it may be impossible to house every last homeless person in the city, but he plans on creating a system “guiding people to a continuum of care,” and understanding why the hardcore homeless population can not find permanent shelter.
There are currently 248 homeless people in Somerville, said Meghann Goughann of Cambridge and Somerville Program for Alcohol Rehabilitation (CASPAR). CASPAR conducted a “homeless census” Jan 30 and 31. They surveyed emergency shelters, transition programs and areas where people were sleeping outside between 2:30 a.m. and 7:30 a.m. over the two nights. Fifteen people were recorded as sleeping outside without shelter.
“It’s not scientific but it’s pretty accurate,” Goughann said. However, Goughann said the census takers could have missed homeless people who move around at night and sleep during the day. CASPAR also avoided certain areas because of safety concerns, she said.