Mobilizing Resources to End Homelessness
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and cities in the Pioneer Valley, including Springfield, have made commitments to mobilize resources to end homelessness. For homeless families with children, the state has shifted away from providing shelter placements. Resources have been allocated to provide permanent housing to prevent homelessness, reduce the length of time families remain in shelter and provide services that help stabilize families. The Western Massachusetts Network to end Homelessness can provide more information about regional efforts to end homelessness.
HomeBASE: A New Response to Homelessness
In 2011 the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development implemented a new approach to assisting families. HAPHousing is now the lead agency for HomeBASE in Hampden and Hampshire Counties, building on the experience gained during the 25 years we provided homelessness prevention services and operated Prospect House, a congregate family shelter in Springfield. HomeBASE offers an alternative to shelter and other assistance, including the program known as RAFT, helps families avoid becoming homeless. It includes time-limited assistance designed to provide a housing solution which is based on the individual needs of a family. Resources available, including funds for security deposits, first and last month’s rent and temporary rental stipends are designed to facilitate stability. During the limited time that rental stipends are available, families are given the tools they need to work towards becoming self-sufficient and continuing to maintain the tenancy.
We currently provide 46 temporary scattered-site emergency shelter units in Springfield and 9 units at our congregate shelter Prospect House, where homeless families can stay while they work with program staff to obtain stable, permanent housing. For HomeBASE, Prospect House or other emergency sheltering services, families must be referred by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development through the local offices of the Department of Transitional Assistance.
Ending Homelessness through Affordable Housing Development
Strategies for avoiding homelessness depend on an adequate supply of readily available, affordable housing – and HAPHousing works actively to increase the stock of affordable units in our region. HAPHousing has developed nearly 900 units of affordable housing including single person occupancy units, transitional and permanent housing for families who have experienced homelessness, and housing for those with special needs. Currently, we are working with a group of other nonprofit developers and service providers to explore new ways to add to the stock of supportive housing for those with special needs.