and Influencing Policy
Adding New Homeless & Transitional Housing Services
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the Pioneer Valley region and the City of Springfield have all made commitments to mobilize resources to end homelessness for individuals and families.
There have been major shifts in public policy. For homeless families with children, the state has shifted away from congregate shelters and is re-allocating resources to reduce the length of time families remain in shelter, move families quickly into permanent housing, maximize their income and ensure that they remain stable. There is also an emphasis on services that prevent families from becoming homeless. This initiative, known as HomeBASE, started on August 1, 2011 and is still a work in progress.
As the region's lead agency for HomeBASE, HAPHousing is playing an active role in these efforts, working with state officials and other nonprofit organizations and building on the experience gained during the 25 years we have operated Prospect House, a congregate family shelter in Springfield. In addition to Prospect House, HAPHousing provides 46 temporary Rapid Re-housing emergency shelter units in various locations throughout Springfield, where homeless families can stay while they work with program staff to obtain stable, permanent housing. As a result of the current economic climate, the number of homeless families far exceeds the number of sheltering units in the state and the state has been forced to put families into motel units temporarily. HAPHousing is now working to help those families find appropriate permanent housing.
Families are accepted into Prospect House or Rapid Re-Housing shelter units through referral from Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development staff at the local Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA). Contact your local DTA office for more information.
HAPHousing also offers a variety of programs and services to help individuals and families stabilize their existing housing situation and avoid becoming homeless.
The real solution for ending homelessness is an adequate supply of readily available, affordable housing – and HAPHousing is actively involved in efforts to increase the stock of affordable units. We have 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.
In 2009, HAPHousing worked 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. The result of this work is a concept paper entitled "Designing a Massachusetts Supportive Housing Production Initiative". We are pleased to report that in the summer of 2011, the Massachusetts legislature approved legislation to create a pilot program that will require the coordination of funding by several state agencies to produce 1,000 units of supportive housing with services in the next three years.