How you can help keep one of Amherst’s most prominent homeless shelters from closing

For many it’s a matter of life and death

According to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, the population of those experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts has more than doubled since 1990, reaching over 21,000 people. There are, however, only about 3,000 beds available each night in the entire state. And that number is about to go down.

Craig’s Place Emergency Shelter is one of Amherst’s most important shelters for Western, MA’s unexpectedly high homeless population, which, according to an article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette, has risen significantly in recent years.

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The shelter put out a press release in mid-November explaining how the State’s recent budget cuts may negatively affect them.

There are three options,” wrote Craig’s Doorthe non-profit organization that runs Craig’s Place, “1.) We receive all of our funding. 2.) We take a percentage cut, which may be great or small. 3.) We lose all of our funding.”

The shelter is currently receiving $200,000 annually from the state to remain in operation. If they were to lose this funding, the shelter would be forced to shut down indefinitely, leaving the homeless population without anywhere to go, during what is expected to be one of the coldest winters on record.

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In an interview with the Amherst Wire, Craig’s Door manager, Kerry Brock, stated that Craig’s Place costs about $300 a night during its operating season (November – April).

To help afford these costs as the cold sets in and the shelter becomes the only option for some, Craig’s Place has started a GoFundMe page. So far the shelter has raised almost $9,000, a substantial achievement, but not enough to cover the cost of operation.

An appeal has been made to the Hampshire County community for help, not only in fundraising, but in spreading awareness of this crisis. UMass Amherst is a big community, so let’s spread the word, get people talking, and hopefully prevent the closing of Craig’s Place. It is, after all, a matter of life and death for many people.

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