Housing, Homelessness Prevention and Emergency Services

Kelly Turley of the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless spoke at Rosie’s Place on March 21 about housing issues, and some of the problems that we deal with every day.

The main issue was how we ladies deal with our financial problems while we’re homeless or before we become
homeless. Many ladies pointed out to Kelly that many people don’t receive a large amount of money when they’re
in housing, and the ones who do still wind up being homeless or on the verge of being homeless because things are extremely expensive in Boston.

I pointed out to Kelly that, in order to live in Boston, you need to be making $2,000 per month or greater in income ($24,000 – $50,000 per year) and $200 per month for food. Many people in Boston don’t get enough money to live in Boston because welfare and Social Security don’t pay enough money for people to be able to live and care for themselves in Boston.

Kelly admitted that she already knew this fact. What she didn’t know was that many people don’t get enough
money to pay for food when they apply for food stamp assistance at the local welfare office. I surprised her when I told her that I was only receiving $16 per month in Food Stamps and $814.39 from Social Security.

Many of the ladies had tons of complaints for Kelly and lots of stories to tell about what’s happened to them
before and after they became homeless. Kelly was able to inform them about what Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless is trying to do by speaking with the state legislators, senators, Congress, the governor and the other important politicians who work at the State House and City Hall. She encouraged us to complain more to our political representatives, because that helps us to get the things that we need in order to take care of ourselves and our families.

On March 30 I went to a meeting run by Christina Knowles, Ashley Mann and Kat Chapman. Christina works
with Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, Ashley works for Homestart and Kat, from the Mass. Coalition for Homeless, recently showed a new video of unaccompanied youths who are homeless and between the ages of 14 and 22 years old.

I learned a lot about Homestart. I learned that they have a department that helps you get a Section 8 certificate, they have a department that helps with keeping you from becoming homeless, they have a legal department, they deal with people who have criminal records, battered individuals, families, mentally
ill individuals and chronically homeless individuals who live in the shelters and on the street.

They even help teenagers and young adults who deal with agencies such as Youth On Fire in Cambridge and Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Boston. Like Massachusetts Coalition For the Homeless, they support The Long Term Shelter Stayer Initiative, HUD HPRP Stimulus Funding, An Act Relative to Community Housing and Services (Gov.Patrick signed this into law on March 22) and An Act Providing Housing and Supportive Service to Unaccompanied Homeless Youth.

Ashley Mann gave us some facts which I didn’t know about. For example: in the U. S., there are approximately
636,017 individuals and families that are Ashley Mann gave us some facts which I didn’t know about. For example: in the U. S., there are approximately 636,017 individuals and families that are homeless and of that, 399,836 individuals are homeless, and of that 107,148 individuals are chronically homeless. (This data comes from the HUD PIT Count, 2011, most recent HUD data available as of 3/12).

In Massachusetts there are approximately 3,500 to 4,000 homeless families (depending on the month), and approximately 6,344 homeless individuals (HUD 2011 PIT Count), In the city of Boston there was a decrease in outside homeless individuals by 29 percent from 2009 to 2010 (lowest outside shelter count in Massachusetts to date) and in the city of Boston there has been an increase in emergency shelter homeless
individuals by 4 percent from 2009 to 2010.

Kat is working hard to update her video about unaccompanied homeless youth. Kelly Turley is still working hard on advocating for services to help the homeless. Ashley has plans to keep doing what she’s doing, and all three of them want more people to support them and community programs such as The McKinney-Vento Act, which is a crucial tool in helping students and communities cope with the challenge caused by
homelessness.

They want help with raising $200,000 through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Administrative Line Item (7004-0099), which would give money to the local furniture banks to help people statewide by helping assist low-income households transitioning from homelessness into housing. They are working closely with the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, Springfield HAP, and The WISH Project, all of whom operate furniture bank programs.

BEATRICE BELL is a Spare Change News writer and vendor.

Photo/Ashley Mann, Christina Knowles and Kat Chapman.

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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