We've had a huge crisis in housing and homelessness for years, exacerbated by the recession, unemployment and the June 1 tornado.
Now,.unless we fight back HARD and IMMEDIATELY, thousands of families balancing precariously on the edge of homelessness will find themselves on the streets, and their children will be snatched away by DCF. But of course there are thousands of families already homeless, and single people too many to count, sleeping on the library steps, under the bridge and in abandoned buildings..
Emergency Arise Membership Meeting
Wednesday, October 26, 5:30 pm.
Arise, 467 State St., Spfld
Background: For months, we at Arise and other allies across the state have been fighting to improve regulations for a new program, HomeBase, which is supposed to help prevent family homelessness, bring homelessness to an end more quickly, and improve the chances for families to keep from becoming homeless again. I've written about it here and here, and we've done trainings for members and gotten folks down to the welfare office as often as possible, to let homeless and nearly-homeless families know about the program. The program finally went into effect August 1st.
Last week, reading minutes from the Family Services Committee meeting, I saw that the Dept. of Housing and Community Development, which oversees the HomeBase program, was saying that the eligibility and need for HomeBase was three to four times what was expected across the state. Well, we could have told them that-- doesn't imbue me with confidence in their statistical data and ability to plan.
TODAY, got an email from Mass. Law Reform Institute saying that as of end of day tomorrow, DHCD is not accepting any new applicants for the HomeBase program-- AND, even worse, they are proposing families' access to emergency shelter through the Emergency Assistance program (which DHCD alaso runs) be limited to three, narrow categories: families under 21, families displaced by natural disaster, and families fleeing domestic abuse. In fact, this policy change was due to begin today, but advocates' phone calls and discussions with legislators and the Governor's office has held the change off temporarily. (Written into the HomeBase law is that DHCD must give 60 days' notice to the Legislature before changing Homebase or EA regulations. But DHCD plans to beat that in the short-term by still approving people-- not changing the regs-- but just not actually providing them with shelter. What a cynical game.)
At the end of this post are phone numbers for the Governor and legislators for you to call and say that the Governor MUST not allow families to be homeless on the street.
But the real question, for all Arise members and our allies, is, What are we going to do about this?
Come to the Emergency Membership meeting, put out your ideas, and take up your responsibility.
Bring some food if you can.
The Governor's office can be reached by phone at 1-888-870-7770 or 617-725-4005.
Legislators can be reached through the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000, or directly through the numbers listed here: Directory of Representatives and Directory of Senators. To search for your legislator based on your address, please go to www.wheredoivotema.com.
Photo from Hmmlargeart's photostream at Flickr.