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Amherst rep Goldstein-Rose makes pitch to governor for shelter money

  • State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose argues in a letter to the governor should release $200,000 in funding to the Craig’s Place shelter. Gazette file photo



Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 20, 2017

AMHERST — Amherst’s representative in the state Legislature is making a formal appeal to Gov. Charlie Baker to release the $200,000 for the operations of the town’s only homeless shelter.

In a letter sent to Baker on Tuesday, 3rd Hampshire District State Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose writes that there are many who depend on the shelter as they struggle with finding affordable housing, face opioid and alcohol abuse and see a lack of treatment for mental illness.

“The guests who stay at Craig’s Doors would have incredible difficulty finding a warm place to stay at other area shelters, which are too often full and will turn away guests who have been using,” Goldstein-Rose writes.

Without the state money, the shelter, known as Craig’s Place, is at risk of closing in the middle of winter.

“Those who cannot find shelter would have no choice but to sleep outside, resulting in illness and deaths,” Goldstein-Rose writes.

The Baker-Polito administration notes that December is an important month for revenue collections, with both estimated income and corporate payments, and there is a need to continue to review spending on various programs.

The fiscal 2018 budget includes $100 million in spending approved by the Legislature over Baker’s vetoes, lacks complete MassHealth reforms advocated by the governor and has about $200 million in underfunded accounts for such items as legal bills and snow and ice removal.

Goldstein-Rose said that he understands some special and one-time projects can be put on hold, but to do this to a shelter poses dangers for the 200 or more people who use it each winter.

The Select Board Monday didn’t make any decisions on whether to have some of $60,000 in additional community services funding appropriated at Town Meeting go to the shelter services.

The town would have to do a request for proposal, Town Manager Paul Bockelman said. The shelter’s needs, he added, are something wise to pay attention to.

Baker eventually released the money last year during a similar freeze.

“I’m not as confident that will happen this year,” Bockelman said.

The Select Board will also be drafting to Baker and the Legislature asking for release of the earmark.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.