WORCESTER - A trip to the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) tends to bring more horror than hope for most people, but the city of Worcester is pushing for the latter now that their Main Street RMV location is closed. They are turning it into an emergency shelter for the winter.
"The Registry of Motor Vehicles has been vacant for over a year now," said Worcester City Manager Eric Batista. "We have had individuals in encampments in different areas of the city, and individuals who are couch surfing. We have had an increase in our city in [the number of homeless people]. More so than previous years. We know we have challenges."
The Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance says the area experienced a 70% increase in homeless individuals from 2021 to 2023. During the winter last year, they had more than 800 individuals who were homeless. Batista believes the spike is due to lingering COVID effects, and the rapid growth of the city creating a housing shortage.
"Sometimes just providing a roof is not enough. It's wraparound services to make sure they are successful," said Batista.
While the city continues to push for a permanent shelter, this emergency location will provide mental health service, multiple meals per day, and advocates to find people a place to live.
"We are going to have our outreach team go out to the encampments and prioritize the folks that are in encampments to come to the shelter," said Batista.
The RMV building will house 60 beds, and they expect it to run through April. Even at that number, the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance expects the city to be short 137 beds to adequately meet the needs of the community.
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