Neighbors of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts say they are concerned about a lack of transparency and the unknown impacts that 50 to 75 families will have on the community's resources and the college.
But Trustee John Barrett III, a neighbor of the campus, said placing the homeless in the Berkshire Towers would be "catastrophic" for the school and castigated the board for not asking more questions about its role in the decision.
The stereotypes of homelessness have been alive and well among our local leaders and among the public. The conjured images of filthy drug addicts pushing shopping carts and begging for money have been splattered across social media and whispered over back fences.
Initially, I was not against the idea of MCLA's president, Jamie Birge, announcing plans to open a currently empty dorm building for housing homeless families, however, the more I've talked with neighbors and friends, the more I believe it's a horrible idea.
The city has been operating a temporary emergency shelter at the former St. Joseph's High School since the beginning of the pandemic. The capacity is currently set at 50, whereas the city's shelter formerly operated at a 20 percent capacity that doubled in the winter.
Three County Continuum of Care, which is the entity through which federal funding comes to the city for homeless services, determined that about 18 individuals are unsheltered and 92 individuals who are homeless but sheltered in a transitional housing program or in the shelter itself.