Earlier this month, GroundTruth’s Kelly Kasulis and NPR/WGBH’s Elizabeth Ross published a story on Boston’s working homeless. I chose to advance this story I because I care about the issue and was shocked to learn that so many people with jobs are homeless. I think the homeless on our streets has sadly become such a fabric of the cityscape that we don’t think about their situation anymore. But little do we know as well of the homeless among us, who work in places we frequent and struggle hard to have a roof over their heads. I thought it was great reporting by both Kasulis and Ross. While I shared the story done by Kasulis, I thought the shorter WGBH one was good too.
As a way to advance this story and push for better policy on housing and wages, I wrote to Mayor Walsh and Governor Baker’s office both by email and the online form on their respective websites.
The full text reads:
Dear Mayor Walsh,
My name is Zafirah Mohamed Zein and I’m a journalism student at Northeastern University. I’m writing to refer you on the following article about the city’s working homeless:
I believe it is obvious to any Boston resident that the city has a worrying population of homeless people. It has saddened and troubled me the last 4 years I’ve been here as a student. This article however sheds light on a segment of that population that is employed. It shocked me that almost half of the country’s homeless population are working part-time or full-time and that so many people around us are struggling to put a roof over their heads. This should not be the case in such a great city like Boston, where many have been allowed to thrive in the comfort and security the city provides.
I think serious and active steps should be taken to address and fix the problem of housing affordability in Boston. The fact that the minimum wage is $9 less than that bare minimum to afford rent in Boston is a huge concern. Robyn Frost, the executive director of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, put the problem simply: “Families work their butts off to keep the roof over their heads, but the folly is that the rent is too damn high and the income is too damn low.”
While I’m aware that much has been done to provide support to the homeless, more can and should be done, especially under your administration. I hope that you work towards addressing and finding solutions to this issue so that more members of the Boston community are given a fairer chance of a stable life in Boston.
Homelessness – While this is an issue/story I feel has been done many times, I believe it deserves dedicated reporting each time it is covered in order to enact more effective change and remind readers how very real these lives are.