Massachusetts Announces Statewide Collaborative Effort to Create 1,000 units Supportive Housing by 2015

Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray announced today a first-in-the-nation, collaborative effort by 18 state agencies to create an additional 1,000 units of permanent, supportive housing in Massachusetts by 2015.  There are currently approximately 15,000 units of supportive housing in Massachusetts.

“Since day one, the Governor and I have been dedicated to reducing homelessness in the Commonwealth,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray, Chair of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. “By offering families in need supportive housing options, we are not only ensuring they have a place to call home but also the right resources to remain stable, get back on their feet, and soon begin to provide for their family again."

The 18 agencies involved in a memorandum of understanding will partner to improve existing processes, make recommendations for new, collaborative efforts, and develop a long-range action plan to meet the need for supportive housing among the Commonwealth’s residents. Supportive housing helps individuals and families that are homeless or facing homelessness, institutionalized or at-risk of institutionalization; people with disabilities and the elderly. Additionally, the agencies will assess the extent of public cost-savings generated as a result of providing permanent supportive housing and will recommend strategic reinvestments.

“This supportive housing program will provide a clear pathway for participants from homelessness and emergency shelter towards stabilization and growth in permanently affordable housing,” said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

“CSH applauds the Patrick-Murray Administration and state agencies throughout the Commonwealth in this ground breaking example of comprehensive interagency collaboration to use supportive housing as the scaffolding for improving systemic response to their most vulnerable residents," said Deborah De Santis, Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) President & CEO. "CSH looks forward to supporting the Commonwealth’s implementation of this bold new effort to maximize public resources and build healthy communities."

In March, Governor Patrick signed “An Act Relative to Community Housing and Services,” which increases coordination and efficiency across government agencies by requiring these agencies to commit to working together through a legally-binding MOU to create a demonstration program resulting in up to 1,000 new permanent supportive housing units, and requires administrative action to promote supportive housing and to establish benchmarks to assess progress.

Today in Brockton, in a visit to supportive housing partner Father Bill’s & MainSpring, Lieutenant Governor Murray also announced the award of 138 project-based vouchers from the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). The vouchers are available to owners of existing, affordable rental properties, who provide services or partner with an agency that has experience with successfully stabilizing homeless or very low-income households.

The MRVP vouchers allow homeless families to move into existing housing developments with long-term affordability restrictions. The supporting non-profit agencies which own the property will provide participating families with comprehensive supportive service programs to help ensure that they not only do not fall back into the cycle of homelessness and emergency shelter, but also move toward stability and self-sufficiency. Funds for supportive services in the amount of $2,500 per unit will be used to provide a wide array of services, including job search and training, financial literacy and planning, self-sufficiency training and coaching, counseling, parenting, early education and child care, mental health and addiction treatment, adult education, and GED and skills training.

“I am excited about the positive impact this program will have right here in Brockton,” said Mayor Linda M. Balzotti.  “In the last few years, we have worked diligently and collaboratively to address homelessness in our city, with Father Bill’s and MainSpring and other agencies.  This initiative will go a long way toward furthering these efforts.”

The Patrick-Murray Administration continues to focus its efforts and resources on homelessness prevention and permanent housing, to reduce the number of families living in hotels and at the same time to maintain one of the strongest safety nets in the country.

Governor Patrick and the Legislature have increased funding for homelessness prevention and permanent housing programs, including increasing funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program from $276,000 to $8.7 million, which provides up to $4,000 in assistance to prevent a family from becoming homeless. The Governor and the Legislature also secured $6 million in additional funds for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, which will provide rental assistance to over 500 families, and boosted capital funds to construct and preserve more affordable housing.

Below is a list of organizations receiving grants from the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP):

Crittenton Women’s Union (CWU), Boston
11 MRVPs for Abbot House, an 11-unit apartment building in Dorchester.  There are five 2-BRs and six 1-BRs proposed.  Abbott House is currently a transitional (two-year) young parent supportive housing program.  DHCD contributed state Housing Innovation Fund (HIF) and federal Home Investment Partnership Program (HOME) to this project in 2001.  With MRVP project-based, this development would be restructured to a five-year model designed to stabilize high risk families and place them on a path to economic mobility based on CWU’s “Bridge to Self Sufficiency” model.  Ten of the units proposed are currently occupied by HomeBASE families.  About 50% have a history of domestic violence—a preference in the tenant selection plan for this development.  CWU has served women and their families since 1827 and is currently one of the largest providers to DHCD for family shelter and stabilization services.

Travelers Aid Family Services (TAFS), Boston
4 MRVPs for two 3-family properties on Columbia Road in Dorchester and Marion Street in East Boston.  Columbia Road will have one 3-BR unit; Marion St. will have one 2-BR and two 3-BR units. The unit at Columbia Street is already occupied by a formerly homeless family; the units at Marion Street are currently occupied by formerly homeless families with Section 8 mobile vouchers.  TAFS is anticipating that at least one of these families will relocate using their Section 8 vouchers.  There is also a HomeBASE family at this property, and they have given 30-day notice.  TAFS is requesting rents at Fair Market Rents (FMR) levels, which are set by the U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development (HUD).  TAFS has been providing support services to homeless and at risk families and individuals for over 20 years, and has been operating these two properties as supportive permanent housing for formerly homeless families since 2007.

Old Colony YMCA (OCY), Brockton
In partnership with South Shore Housing Development (SSHDC) and the Brockton Redevelopment Authority (BRA), Old Colony YMCA will receive 5 MRVPs for: 1. two 3-bedroom units at the Family Life Center in Brockton (total of 13 units owned by SSHDC/operated by OCY); and 2. three 3-BR units in a three-family home on Green Street in Brockton (owned by the BRA/managed by OCY).  DHCD contributed HOME, HIF and state Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) to the Family Life Center (FLC) in 2010.  Both FLC units are 3-BR handicapped units on first floor.  The FLC also contains DHCD-contracted shelter units.  The three Green Street units are in a building acquired and newly renovated through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) and are immediately available.  MRVP rents are limited at Family Life Center by existing requirements; rents at Green Street are proposed at FMR. The YMCA has a good track record and ongoing capacity to manage and provide support services.

Heading Home (HH), Cambridge
10 vouchers to use in a newly acquired and renovated property at 37 Wales Street in Dorchester. This building is owned and managed by HH.  All units are currently available, and HH proposes to work with DHCD and the regional RAA to select tenants from its own 83 Emergency Assistance (EA) units, or from other agencies with which HH is closely aligned.  HH currently manages 250 units of scattered-site supportive housing through contracts with Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Malden, Medford, Revere, and other communities. The proposed units are 2-BRs and 3-BRs.  Rents are at FMR levels.  HH will provide support services. HH currently employs 25 case manages, 10 stabilization workers, an employment specialist, and a team of five self-sufficiency coaches that provide an array of services to over 700 families annually.

Valley Opportunity Council (VOC), Chicopee
12 MRVPs four at 226 East Main Street in Chicopee and eight in 182 Pearl Street in Holyoke.   All units are 2-BRs and 3-BRs and will be available. There are no rental restrictions on properties and rents are proposed at levels slightly below FMR.  VOC will manage the properties as well as provide services. VOC has managed five properties with MRVPs (and other forms of rental assistance) since 1991.  VOC currently provides services to homeless families including job search, housing placement, WIC referrals, counseling, GED classes and other referrals.

Community Care Services (CCS), Fall River
9 MRVPS for 2-BR units in a recently renovated (completed March 2012) 18-unit development on Eagle Street which houses homeless families and program support offices.  There are 8 other residential units in the development (one unit is an on-site case support service program office); all other units have Section 8 PVBs.  DHCD contributed HIF, HSF and State Affordable Housing Trust Fund (AHTF) to the project, and rents are limited by these programs.  All proposed MRVP units are currently occupied by formerly homeless families referred from emergency assistance shelters and motels.  Seven of these families have HomeBASE subsidies.  The rent level proposed ($720/month; all 2-BRs) is lower than current FMRs in the Fall River region.   Community Care Services is a very capable supportive service provider.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC), Framingham
24 MRVPs for scattered-site family units at 20 different addresses, including 4 one- bedrooms, 10 two-bedrooms, 9 three-bedrooms and 1 four-bedroom unit.  Units are in Framingham, Hudson and Northbridge.  At least 12 units will be available soon (within 60-90 days).  When other units turn over, they will be made available to MRVP/homeless clients.  Requested rents are at FMR.  SMOC provides extensive support service to homeless families including assistance in enrollment for public benefits, early education and child care, mental health and addiction treatment, adult education, employment and skills training.

Emmaus Inc. (EI), Haverhill
10 MRVPs to be used in three properties near the Emmaus campus in downtown Haverhill; 1. Applewood Apartments;  2. 115 Emerson Street; and, 3. Columbia Park Apartments/449 Main Street. The units include eight 2-BRs and four 3-BRs.  All units are currently occupied by formerly homeless families.  As turnover occurs (there is currently one family planning to move), the units will be made available to MRVP eligible families.  There are no rental restrictions on these properties, and proposed rents are at FMR levels.  Emmaus has over 20 years of experience in providing residentially based support service to formerly homeless families and individuals.  Emmaus Family House is the area’s largest emergency shelter for families, serving 169 families in FY2012.  Emmaus successfully re-housed 96 homeless families from shelter programs and motels.  Emmaus is the “front door” provider of HomeBASE services in Lawrence under contract to Community Teamwork, Inc.

Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC), Hyannis
6 MRVPs vouchers to support its scattered site family homelessness known as Foundations (not current DHCD EA scattered sites). Foundations consists of 12 scattered-site apartments purchased and rehabbed in the mid-1990s using DHCD’s HIF, Barnstable County HOME, and HUD funds.  All units are used for housing families who are formerly homeless or at risk of homelessness.  The overall program runs at a deficit with many units in need of capital replacements.  As a result, HAC recently has started to seek tenants who can pay maximum rents under HIF and HOME.  MRVPs requested at FMR and will permit HAC to continue to rent to very low income families.  HAC has long track record of providing extensive support services.

Lynn Shelter Association (LSA), Lynn
5 MRVPs vouchers for units in a 12-unit, three-story building on Liberty Street.  All units are 2- and 3-BR permanent housing for homeless families, including five Shelter Plus Care and three HomeBASE units.   Three units are immediately available for MRVP families.  MRVPs requested are at FMR.  LSA and its subsidiary (HOME) have successfully owned and managed affordable rental housing for 30 years for families and individuals who are homeless or at risk.  LSA will provide extensive support services to MRVP families including case management and stabilization services.

Common Ground Development Corporation (CGDC), Lowell
19 MRVPs for two properties in Lowell; 1. 205 Worthen Street; and 2. 420/423/430 Broadway.   Worthen Street has three 3-BR units currently occupied by Home BASE families, and Broadway has 29 occupied units, of which seven 2-BRs and nine 3-BRs will be made available—a total of 16 units.  DHCD contributed HIF to the Worthen St. project in 2007.  Incomes in both properties are limited by HOME, and the proposed rents are at FMRs.  Common Ground is a non-profit subsidiary of Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI).  CTI administers HomeBASE to over 1,000 families in the Merrimack Valley and offers a broad range of support services.  Common Ground’s properties are managed by Peabody Properties.  However, CTI proposes to have SMOC administer the MRVPs through a Memorandum of Agreement.  SMOC is a Regional Administering Agency (RAA) for DHCD’s rental assistance programs. As units turn over, tenants will be referred from a site specific waiting list administered by SMOC.

House of Hope Housing (HOHH), Lowell
1 MRVP for property at 203 Salem Street.  This property is known as New Hope Apartments and, since 1995, it has served 10 formerly homeless families transferred to this permanent housing from HOHH shelters.  DHCD supported this project with HIF and HSF. The project currently is exhibiting an operating shortfall, primarily attributable to the one vacant unit.  The unit for MRVP will be immediately available to a homeless family.   HOHH provides a highly service enriched environment for all of its clients.  (Note that DHCD will be submitting for review by the Governor’s office a recommendation that the House of Hope receive a $55,464 award from federal Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Special Projects funds for its stabilization services for families exiting shelter.)

Housing Families Inc. (HFI), Malden
9 MRVPs in two existing properties in Revere and Malden.  HFI is owner, manager and provider of support services of these properties.  DHCD contributed HIF, HOME and AHTF to these projects.  Units are all two- and three-bedrooms, except for a large one-bedroom, and subject to high and low HOME income with FMR rents.  Five of the six families in Revere are HomeBASE clients, with at least two units to become available in 60-90 days.  All three families in Malden are MRVP (mobile) clients, with at least one family planning to move.  HFI has extensive experience providing case management and stabilization services to homeless families.

Father Bill’s/MainSpring (FB/M), Quincy
6 MRVPs for two 3-family homes on Grove and Lexington Streets in Brockton.  Both buildings are foreclosed properties acquired and renovated using NSP funds.  All units are vacant at Grove St (three 2-BRS); all units at Lexington Street (three 3-BRS) are occupied by HomeBASE families. Tenant incomes are restricted to 50% AMI in both properties (per NSP terms) and requested rents are at FMRs.  FB/M is the leading provider of emergency shelter, housing, and services for homeless people on the South Shore and in southeastern Massachusetts.  Last year, Father Bill’s/Mainspring assisted over 4,000 families and individuals.

Better Homes Inc. (BHI), Liberty Hill Townhomes, Springfield
3 MRVPs units at three scattered site properties in the Liberty Hill development in Springfield.   The units are 3-BRs. They are currently available.   Proposed rents are at FMR levels.  BHI will manage the properties and partner with HAP Housing to provide services.  HAP is the region’s leading agency for the HomeBASE program, and provided stabilization services to approximately 685 families in 2011.

Better Homes Inc. (BHI), Neighborhood Homes, Springfield
4 MRVPs units at four scattered site properties in the 102-unit Neighborhood Homes development located in the Upper Hill-Bay Street-Lower Liberty neighborhoods of Springfield.   The units are 2-BRs and 3-BRs. They are currently available.  Proposed rents are at FMR levels.  BHI will manage the properties and partner with HAP Housing to provide services.  HAP is the region’s leading agency for the HomeBASE program, and provided stabilization services to approximately 685 families in 2011.


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