According to the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute, more than half of all renters in the Pioneer Valley region spend more than 30% of their income on housing.
In fact, the Institute says the housing crunch has become so severe that nearly 20,000 new rental units would be required just to satisfy current demand for affordable housing.
Little wonder that we have a severe homeless problem, and families strained by an unacceptable shortage of modern, affordable housing units.
I will work with the private-sector, philanthropic organizations, civic-minded community leaders, corporate sponsors and developers to create a city where people can afford to live.
After years of treating residents of Springfield as a social scientist and psychotherapist, I can say without hesitation that we have a mental and emotional health crisis in our city.
Too many people who need help can’t get the right kind of help. It is the symptom of a city where 25% live below the poverty line, a city with an acute shortage of affordable housing, a city that ranks near the bottom of our state in per-capita income.
It is a problem that fuels rising crime statistics, unemployment, absenteeism, and civil conflicts between neighbors.
We can’t create thousands of new jobs overnight, but we can create and promote innovative social events that will help generate exciting employment opportunities for those in need.
As opioids flooded Western Massachusetts late in the last decade, few cities suffered more than Springfield. According to The Addiction Center, recent data shows “Hampden County alone had an 84% increase in fatalities.”
The opioid crisis also fueled demand for other narcotics including heroin, cocaine and fentanyl. The rise in drug use has led to gang wars and gang violence in our city. Those who live in Springfield wake to read stories about kids killing kids, massive drugs busts by police, robberies, theft, shoplifting and one of the highest violent crime rates in the country.
We can do better. While the police do their best to infiltrate drug gangs and stem drug trafficking, the city must do a better job of advocating novel, evidence-based treatment models for those suffering from drug dependencies since our current approach is tragically ineffective.
The best social program ever invented is a good job that pays a good wage. The engines of growth in our economy are small businesses, the mom-and-pop stores, the specialty shops, locally owned restaurants, a city where entrepreneurs come, settle, work and create good jobs that pay good wages.
We can do our part to help our small business sector grow and prosper by more effectively utilizing our riverfront for small business, expanding the scope of entertainment and first-class restaurant offerings that will attract more tourists with more money to our City; installing more flower boxes, modern LED lighting and amenities that increase foot traffic in small business zones.
Just as we need a mayor with a passion for lifting the forgotten, we need a Mayor committed to repairing the strained relationship so many have with the leadership of our Police Department. The crime wave will not cease until citizens of all races and ethnicities trust our police officers to treat them with civility and respect.
It will take a new kind of approach from the police leadership that we have not yet seen. Never again should we see a report from the Department of Justice calling ours ‘one of the worst police departments in the country.”
On my watch, I will establish new City-to-Community-based “genuine“ partnerships and integrate novel crime reporting initiatives and incentives to further reduce crime.
One of my fondest hopes is to bring an annual, month-long Summer Carnival to Springfield where all gather to sample the cuisine, listen to music, attend concerts and inhale the rich diversity of our culture.
Our diversity is one of our greatest assets. Our city of immigrants is a testament to our tolerance. It is a way to show our appreciation to those who enhance the life of our city and celebrate all that makes Springfield a great place to live and raise a family.
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