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By now, Massachusetts wasn't supposed to have any homeless families.

    In 2008, Gov. Deval Patrick set a goal of virtually eliminating family homelessness in five years. The program's aim was to better detect when families were on the verge of falling into homelessness _ and then moving in swiftly with aid.

    Five years later, record numbers of homeless families are straining the state's shelter system. About 2,000 families find temporary housing in hotels and motels across the state and approximately an equal number stay in family shelters.

    Patrick and others point to various reasons for the surge in homelessness, from the yearslong downturn in the economy to a pullback in federal aid.

    But even Patrick concedes that simply extending the state's existing anti-homelessness strategies isn't going to work long-term. (Associated Press)