Tag Archives: affordable housing

Parlee parked in Rose’s space: Our America is fighting back!

Parlee and Athena 2
Parlee🌸💙, left, at a community event!

By Parlee Jones

Peace and Blessings InCity Times People!! It’s been a while since I have put pen to paper, so let me officially say … HAPPY 2017!!! We are two months in and there has been sooooo much stuff
happening in our country and our world!! Good, bad, pretty and ugly! I have so many thoughts running through my head that I don’t even know where to start!

On the homefront, here in Worcester, I’m concerned in the work I do at Abby’s House for Women because of the lack of affordable, decent housing and options for folks who are struggling – single folks and families – in our city. And the stressful conditions put on individuals and families trying to access shelter through the system.

Rents in Worcester have become unaffordable as absentee landlords seek out people with Section 8 and other subsidies so they can charge the highest rent allowed. Those without vouchers or other subsidies have no other options than to pay market rent. Usually more than 50% of their income.

In single income homes this is a lot of money when you have utilities and other day to day expenses. Wage slavery. All issues not even discussed in our presidential election. Homelessness and affordable housing.

So, America has a new president. I think I was in a state of shock when I woke up and Donald Trump was the President of the United States.


I could list all the decisions he has made thus far that I feel are anti-human, but I know we all know what he
has done and is doing. It is all that we see on our social media and on television. I hope you are getting
some of your information from PBS programming!

Now I’m going to focus on the POSITIVE thing that has happened because of Trump’s decisions. Folks are waking up!!! They are protesting. They are
calling local and state and federal government officials to state their discontent. They are signing petitions.
They are showing up for their fellow man, woman and child. All for different issues or multiple issues ~ women’s health, Islamophobia, racism, homophobia, misogyny, immigration.

Saying NO to classist, hate-mongering, racist bully Aidan Kearney, the Turtle Boy blogger (whom Worcester City Councilor Michael Gaffney financially$$$ supports), on the Worcester Common!

It’s all or nothing at this point.

We have to join forces for basic human needs.

If you are showing up for one or two events and not all, you may have to
rethink that. The Women’s Marches on Saturday, January 21, were AMAZING. All 52 states had protest marches. All 52 states had numerous cities that had marches! Fifty five other countries had protest marches in numerous cities in each country. Countries such as Antarctica, Belgium, Austria, Columbia, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ghana, Iceland, India, Lithuania, Kenya, Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru,Portugal, South Korea, the list goes on. Over one million people world-wide!!! The show of support is remarkable! Now we just have to keep it going. Conversations have to be had on
how we have to show up for each and every injustice. Not just those that hit close to home. Each and every

For some folks, showing up for the march was the limit of their activism. Others will continue the conversation.

Just keep an open mind through this particular conversation … Listen. … One way to get involved is to attend a SURJ meeting. Worcester is lucky to have a SURJ chapter. Showing up for Racial Justice, SURJ is a national network of groups (working in conjunction with Black Lives Matter) to organize White people for racial justice. https://www.facebook.com/SURJWorcester/

It is important to push for the understanding that racism is ‘prejudice plus power’ and therefore people of
color cannot be racist against whites in the United States. People of color can be prejudiced against whites but clearly do not have the power as a group to enforce that prejudice.

I know I have been actively protesting since the murder of Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. And have been protesting numerous murders and deaths and injustices since that time. We’ve been marching and protesting.

Go, Bill Maher💙💛💛💙💙, go📢💐📢!

I don’t say these things to belittle the March. It was amazing. But certain things that happened in Worcester, our fair city, extinguished my desire to “fight the good fight.” I was blessed to be a part of a conversation at the Collective GoGo with a group of people who were all up and down the east coast for protests and marches. They shared their experiences and I was rejuvenated. Their passion and desire for justice on ALL issues, not just certain ones, is what gives me hope. Their energy is
amazing. Amanda, Anne, Nori, Christopher, Drew and all the others who shared their experiences have me
hopeful for what is to come.

My sister Tracy, my daughter Sha-Asia and I were actually present at the first Million Woman March in October 1997 in Philadelphia. It was a beautiful event!

Did you know there was one?

As we move forward under this new presidency, we have to remember a few things … We have forgotten that we belong to each other. Yes, I have said this before, and it is a motto that I try to remember daily. That we all belong to each other, and we are all just trying to make it home.

Our America is fighting back. As I sit here typing this article, there are, again, protests all over the United
States, in protest of Trump’s immigration policies and his ban on Muslims entering our country. We’ve got to fight to ensure that the statue standing in the middle of New York Harbor never comes down!

By Ernesto Yerena

By Shepard Fairey

Mass Voters Sue for Time to Preserve the Rights of 77,344 Foreclosed Homeowners

HOME…Chef Joey’s babes at the front door, looking out at the snowscape … Where’s papa Joey?!💖💕 pic: Chef Joey

From Grace Ross and the Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending:

Today, at the 10 a.m. Press Conference, Massachusetts voters who had attempted to put the law to minimize homeowners’ ability to reverse an illegal foreclosure on the ballot for this past November announced their filing of a suit in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts.

The lawsuit alleges that the first group of homeowners whose rights this law attempts to curtail – those illegal foreclosed between 1997 and 2013 – should have up to the constitutional deadline to preserve their rights to reverse an illegal foreclosure.

“I am a leader in the Massachusetts Alliance Against Predatory Lending, a nearly all volunteer organization. Today, we are standing up to the powerful interests both in the Title industry and sadly, some of those in our elected government that don’t give a damn about the rights of the foreclosed – a full three quarters of whom were almost certainly victims of illegal foreclosures,” Zakiya Alake, Plaintiff and member of the MAAPL Steering Committee, “We will fight to stop this law, Chapter 141, from robbing them of their historic rights to fight back against illegal foreclosure. With the help of the National Lawyer’s Guild, we are standing up for the 77,344 home owners because we are the People’s Advocate.”

The Massachusetts Constitution requires that laws have an implementation deadline of 90 days after being signed. The law minimizing homeowners’ rights had a deadline that the Massachusetts Attorney General allowed to go forward of only 36 days. This is critically important because the one year time period for those who were the victims of roughly 77,344 foreclosures prior to 2014 need the time to record documentation at the Registry of Deeds or file in court to preserve their rights.

Press conference location was Shapiro, Weissberg, and Garin, 90 Canal St., 5th Fl. Afterward, Plaintiffs represented by Attorney Jeffrey Feuer of the National Lawyers Guild, will deliver the suit to the Supreme Judicial Court.

“The lawsuit today seeks the Constitutional deadline for previously foreclosed homeowners foreclosed before 2013 to have until February 23, 2017 to record their filings at the registry of deeds. We are deeply concerned about this “supposed” law for many reasons; however, today, we have focused down on the critical shortened deadline for homeowners whose rights are being taken away without any notification,” explained Grace Ross, voter-Plaintiff and Coordinator of the Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending.

“The law that this lawsuit challenges is historically unique in changing the traditional 20 year rights to reverse an illegal foreclosure. These rights have been around for literally hundreds of years,” explained Sarah Mckee, a Plaintiff and former white collar crime prosecutor for Interpol. “These rights are summarily attempted to be cut off by an initiative of the Title Insurance industry.

“The roughly 77,344 foreclosures under this severely foreshortened and unannounced deadline to record documentation at the Registries of Deeds or bring suit amounts to over 25 billion dollars (this is a low estimate) in household wealth that could be barred forever from reclamation.”

The suit was filed by the Mass Alliance Against Predatory Lending and 14 -Voter Petitioners who attempted to have this legislation put before the voters of Massachusetts last November, 2016. When the Secretary of the Commonwealth received this petition, he sent over an almost immediate query to the Attorney General seeking her opinion on whether it was constitutional for this petition to be put before the voters or not.
This law is explicitly named and focused on the rights of homeowners to the legal title of their property.

The Attorney General refused to put it on the ballot based upon a minor part of the bill, involving codifying some Supreme Judicial Court decisions that clarified these powers already existed in the jurisdiction of the Housing Court; this minor section had been added literally after both sides of the legislature had voted on the legislation, debated it at length and handled numerous amendment votes and when the bill was conferenced and sent back as a final vote without any discussion.

The AG argued that this changed powers the courts, even though that section was plainly peripheral to the main purpose of the bill, which was dealing with the hundreds years old rights of former homeowners to challenge illegal foreclosures.

“As far as I’m concerned we homeowners met with Maura Healey when she was running for office. She promised she would be on the side of the homeowners in our fight with the banks. She has blocked our moves and refused us funding from her settlements. Now is her chance to step aside from defending the industry’s law against the Constitutionally protected homeowners of the Commonwealth,” said Mildred Collins, Plaintiff and a homeowner whose rights may have been taken away by this law.

Congratulations, WCHR!

By Edith Morgan

After nearly 25 years, Worcester Community Housing Resources has a lot to brag about, and too the opportunity to do so at a great gathering : it was the 2016 Annual Appreciation Reception, held at Maxwell Silverman’s Toolhouse starting at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 19th.

The object was to get us all acquainted with the great work done by WCHR and to recognize the work done by the staff of eight people who really seem to accomplish miracles.

Worcester Community Housing Resources, Inc. has its offices at 11 Pleasant Street, Suite 300, in Worcester. Under the leadership of its Executive Director, Dominick Marcigliano, and with a dedicated and capable staff of only eight , this organization reaches into many Worcester neighborhoods, in pursuit of its mission “..to create and preserve affordable housing opportunities for low and moderate income households throughout Worcester County.”

At this celebration, Executive Director Marcigliano summarized this non-profit’s accomplishments to date: WCHR, Inc.” has created 38 ownership homes, 112 rental units, 3 commercial storefronts, and 78 assisted living apartments.” These represent investments of over $32 million , and put over $180,000 of increased property tax revenues into our city coffers.

WCHR deals in a variety of housing assistance programs: the organization owns and operates 100 rental units, including a wide variety of housing opportunities: 2, 3, and 4 bedroom apartments, and single-room lodging houses – all for low-income families and individuals. We all know how high rents in the city can be, and how out of reach good, safe, well-managed homes can be for struggling Worcesterites: so I was very pleased to learn that the average tenant pays only $268 per month, but the range goes from a low of $25 per month for a single room occupancy to $687 for a two bedroom apartment. The rate is determined by the tenant’s financial need.

Staying true to its mission, WCHR uses many approaches to providing and maintaining affordable housing, with the help of a great variety of financial resources, seeking to help especially those most difficult house. This includes not only low-income persons, but also those suffering with mental health problems, refugees, people with AIDS, and seniors in need of assisted living.

One such project, ten years in the making, is the Heywood Wakefield Commons in Gardner, which combines federal, state, and local resources to create 78 assisted-living units in a former factory building. This was a unique program open to seniors who are trying to survive on just their Social Security and Medicare. Open since 2011, it has (predictably!) been fully occupied, and provides its occupants with a full array of activities and meals,

More recently, WCHR has bought a building at32 Irving Street, which is being renovated and readied for occupancy this year, with financing from Worcester’s HOME program. This buildingwill house up to 15 individuals and will include secure individual rooms with all utilities and services icludaed.

WCHR also owns and operates various kinds of housing in such varied neighborhoods as Green Island and Main South – where the organizations works with the neighborhood and other providers.

We all know what a “drag” on the area even one building which is neglected, abandoned, or allowed to run down. Represents to the block, the area, and its citizens. So WCHR also works to turn around homes an properties in receivership. In cooperation with the aaattorney general’s office, and the MAssachusettsHousing Partnership Fund, WCHR provides training, consulting and other services to bring these properties back . Forf example, WCHR has facilitated a path toward redevelopment of over 399 housing units in over 199 properties, careataing an25,59% increase in tax revenues for the city.

WCHR alsoprovides home improvement loans fro primary residences for emergency repairs, maintenance or repairs , and correcting cccode violawtions. – all at low rates, so that those unable to afford them can maintain their properties.

Although the main emphasis is on housing development, receivership, community lending, , renting apartments, and property management, there is also an oppoartunity for those not in need of help to invest in WCHR’s Loan Fund. If youwant your money to eaqrn good interest Competitive with commercial loans) csider investing and let your money work for housing in Worcester while at the same time earning yfou some interest.

This organization fulfills so many unique puposes in our city, and fills so many varied needs that supporting its work is a worthy cause. For further information, or if you need help or want to help, WCHR can be reached in a variety of ways: Call 508-799-0322, or visit the website at www.wchr.org
If you are interested in lending options, contact Lora Baldracchi, the Loan Fund Director, at extension 112, 508-799-0322, or at lbaldracchi#wchr.org

Over the years, I have been aware of WCHR’s work, as it progressed under the direction Peter Fellenz,then Matt Walley, and now Dominick . All have been dedicated to upgrading Worcester’s aging housing stock, and enabling residents to find safe, clean, and reasonably priced housing for themselves and their families.

Their model isnot the “one-size fits all “ kind. Their work offers many alternatives, but always of high quality, and with the help of many agencies and funding sources, making a real difference for our city. Looking over the pictures (before and after) of the strucatures that have been improved, and driving down the streets whee they are located, can give a good idea of the impact that WCHR’s work has had,,,,.
In addition to its on-going projects, WCHR is looking for approximately 5000 square feet of space to house a program for teen mothers, who are presently in a location whose lease is expiririg.They will need a yard, some parking, and be near a bus route. Anyone know of a property that meets these requirements should get in touch with WCHR ‘

The “Appreciation Reception” was most enjoyable – the refreshments delicious, and I ran into several people I had not seen for a long time, so it was a chance to renew old friendships. And of course, Maxwell Silverman’s is a great venue for such a celebration.

Go, Abby’s House, go!!!!



Abby’s House women’s apartments and rooms

Affordable housing for women seeking a safe place to live.

52 High St., Worcester

Abby’s House currently has openings for our single-room units and two-bedroom apartments.

Housing vouchers are accepted.

Applications can be picked up at our office located at 52 High St.

… or they can be downloaded from our website at www.abbyshouse.org

A few days before Thanksgiving (Tues., Nov. 26) city leaders spring this on us! The future of Affordable Housing in Worcester! AND: Downtown’s Theater District!

Ha! What a coincidence! While most of us will be out buying tofurkey for the holidays – or driving to visit relatives in farflung cities – the City of Worcester will be doing very important business – business that will impact downtown Worcester for years, business that will determine the fate of our working class! Our leaders will be discussing (or: rubber stampling): the city’s new affordable housing plan and downtown theater district plan.

This is city business! This is OUR business. It is business that we all need to weigh in on! I downloaded the link (click on the blue numbers below), but here is the “agenda”: straight from the jackass’ mouth!

We are the turkeys!! – R. Tirella


Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Esther Howland (South) Meeting

5:30 P.M.

David J. Rushford


Chairperson Frederick C Rushton

Councilor Joseph C O’Brien

Councilor George J Russell

Joseph M. Petty




City Hall – 455 Main Street Worcester, Massachusetts

1 . Communications of the City Manager

Transmitting for City Council’s review and information a copy of the Housing Market

Study, as prepared by RKG Consultants, the Analysis of Impediments to Affordable

Housing, as prepared by 12 Community Development Consulting, Inc. and a

recommended Housing Strategy, as prepared by the Executive Office of Economic


# 5a CC November 27, 2012


In Committee June 11, 2013 – Held

In Committee June 19, 2013 – Held

In Committee July 9, 2013 – Held

Transmitting informational communication relative to the property located at 5 May


# 10.4B CM August 20, 2013


Communication of the City Manager transmitting informational communication

regarding public comments Received about the Theatre District Master Plan Public.

# 8.4J CM April 02, 2013


Communication of the City Manager transmitting informational communication relative

to the Theatre District Master Plan.

# 18b CC April 02, 2013


November 26, 2013 Economic Development Committee Page 1 of 2

2 . Miscellaneous

Petition of Lee Buckley request to establish decent standards in housing and renters

equity in housing in Worcester.

# 7b CC November 20, 2007


In Committee April 24, 2012 – Held

In Committee April 24, 2012 – Held



Ribbon-cutting ceremony for CDC Worcester Common Ground’s 7 Bellevue St.

Great news from the Community Development Corporation (CDC) Worcester Common Ground!

Worcester Common Ground’s 6-property Austin Corridor II project is nearing completion, culminating with the much-awaited opening of 7 Bellevue St., the organization’s former headquarters.

To celebrate the nine units of affordable housing (including two fully accessible units), WCG is holding a ribbon cutting ceremony October 30 at 2:45 p.m. in the newly rehabilitated building.

Executive Director Yvette Lavigne is proud of the project on a number of fronts:  “WCG is lucky to work with the network of federal, state and local partners whose support made the project possible.”

The event will feature a number of special guests, including Mayor Joseph Petty, City Councilors Sarai Rivera and Joseph O’Brien, and Mary Barjolo, a long time tenant of 7 Bellevue, who will be seeing the completed renovations on her unit for the first time! There will also be free food and music!

Worcester’s second annual Family Housing Information Forum

This is an opportunity for Worcester providers to share and learn about resources available for families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness

Wednesday, September 18

Registration Begins at 9:30 am

Event from 10 am to 3 pm at the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance (CMHA), 6 Institute Road

Coffee and Lunch Provided

To Register:

Register by Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Submit registration form and payment to Miranda Muro at CMHA

mmuro@cmhaonline.org fax: 774-243-3856 6 Institute Road, Worcester, MA 01609

$10 Registration Fee per person to help cover costs of food & supplies

This event is open to all. Contact Miranda with any questions regarding the registration fee.

Limit of 3 attendees per agency, due to space constraints

Presentation topics from a variety of speakers include:

· Homeless Prevention Resources · Navigating the Emergency Assistance (EA) System ·

· Assisting Non-EA Eligible Families · Utility Arrearage Resources · Fair Housing Law·

· DCF & Housing · Domestic Violence Resources · Veteran Resources · and more!

Good news: The problems facing the Main South CDC are troublesome but not fatal

By Barbara Haller, Main South Community Development Corporation Board member, former District 4 City Councilor and Main South resident

The Main South CDC continues to work on strengthening its neighborhood in many rich and exciting ways.  The MSCDC continues to manage a large portfolio of affordable and livable apartments and to support home ownership.  The MSCDC is part of a growing community collaborative to improve educational outcomes of its children.   In short:  the Main South CDC is alive and kicking.

Bad News: The public altercation between the Main South’s CDC executive director Steve Teasdale and board member Billy Breault  was regretful.  If I could turn the clock back and make it not happen I surely would.

Steve has led the organization from the beginning. While progress in Main South has been all about teamwork,  you would be heardpressed to find anyone who would deny that Steve – his dedication, intelligence, talent and controlled ego – is the leader of the pack that made it all happen.

Billy has been the voice of public safety and neighborhood development.  He is both a leader and a cheerleader for Main South.  He lives in Main South.  His parents lived in Main South.  He is tried and true in his burning loyalty to his neighborhood and City.  He was Chair of MSCDC Board for many years and always a Board member.  He has represented the MSCDC very well.

But lines were crossed last month when Billy verbally attacked and threatened Steve – first in a voice mail and then in the MSCDC parking lot.  The partnership broke, the team fell apart.  The media were notified and fed information, it became a “story” to be reported.  The reasons for anger and extreme hostility?  Who ever really knows why these things happen, but there was mention of unsafe intersection in the neighborhood where Billy’s partner’s family was injured, there was mention of the   painfully drawnout federal audit of the MSCDC’s use of block grant, there was mention of the MSCDC’s involvement in Main South Promise Neighborhood, there was mention of the MSCDC’s pending sale of 93 Grand Street.  So it appears that this outburst had been festering for some time.

As an active Board member of the MSCDC I can assure everyone that neighborhood outreach continues to keep residents, businesses, and partners informed and engaged.  Likewise I affirm that the MSCDC is finding ways to address the troublesome intersection, is engaged in getting to the final needs of the federal audit, is committed to strong partnership in Main South Promise Neighborhood, and is working on the sale of 93 Grand Street to stabilize the MSCDC’s financial position on this property.  All with Board knowledge and support.  No secrets, no misconduct.

Those of us connected to the Main South CDC and to Billy Breault are saddened.   Both are good.  Both make great contributions to our City.  Together isn’t working anymore.  But life will go on.  The Main South CDC will survive.  Billy will find new ways to boost Main South.



So when I see Worcester Chief Economic Development Officer Tim McGourthy, I’ll …







… have something to talk about. What I’m reading now (under my bedroom chair, top book on my read-this-stuff-first pile of books): THE DEATH AND LIFE OF AMERICAN CITIES, by Jane Jacobs. An old book (a classic) that’s written with such ballsy flare it just carries you along! I feel like I’m right there in Boston’s North End with ol’ Jane. Or in Greenwich Village chatting away with this chatty gal! I have only just begun this tome, but what Jacobs says makes good sense: The denser and more complex and diverse (economically, socially, racially, etc) a neighborhood is – the BETTER! Poor people, factories, bakeries, shops, rich folks – mix ’em all together – it makes a city so lively! The more intimate, the better!

Readers of this blog may have seen the photo I posted of the City Manager’s Housing Report, the photo of the report unceremoniously stuffed into a box, stuck between my oak bureaus. Sorry, city leaders, but the report is just so uninviting, so difficult to read … . Bureaucrat speak all the way! We are waiting for the Readers Digest version to come out – not the city’s executive summary that was also given to me – but something readable, something the people of Woo can enjoy in their local laundromat. But until then, it’s Jane Jacobs …

– Rosalie Tirella


ALSO: Agenda for Worcester City Council meeting – Tuesday, August 20 , City Hall, Main Street. Meeting begins at 6 p.m. To see agenda, click here!

Homelessness in Worcester … What I See

By Parlee Jones

Peace Worcester People!  I hope these writings reach you in the best of health ~ spiritually, emotionally and physically! Working in the human services field in this day and time is no easy task.  The lack of resources in place to help people is real and intimidating.  The amount of families and individuals who are falling through the cracks with no assistance, who don’t qualify for services through certain state and city funding is a growing concern. The gulf between the haves and have not’s is widening.  I am frustrated with having no where to refer people in need.  I think one of the worst things we can do as community support people in the community is to make empty referrals.

 Let’s start with a few statistics from Central Mass Housing Alliance ( www.cmhaonline.org ), which is one of the local agencies doing their part to assist people in need, the following stats from March 2013 are alarming:

 Massachusetts is the 7th most expensive state to live in, according to the 2013 Out of Reach Report of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.” 

My experience with this has been the lack of AFFORDABLE HOUSING which is different from MARKET RATE HOUSING. Right now, for a decent 3 bedroom, the average rent is about $900.00.  This is not affordable housing when the gap between housing and income is as follows …

“Gap Between Housing Costs and Income: According to the 2013 Out of Reach Report of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment in Worcester HMFA is $966. At the time of this study, 56% of renters in Worcester HMFA were unable to afford this level of rent with utilities. In order to afford this cost, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, one must earn an hourly wage of $18.58, assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year. This compares to the mean renter wage in Worcester, which is only $11.69 an hour.”

Keeping in mind that the minimum wage is $8.00 an hour, most of the people I know actually pay about 50% of their income for housing.  This does not leave much wiggle room for food, transportation, clothing, health care and just plain living.  There is the Section 8 program and other voucher programs, but the wait list and availability of these is few and far between.

“Family Homelessness across the Commonwealth: There are over 2,000 families in the state’s Emergency Shelter units, with 1,229 additional families in motels as of March 19, 2013. This number does not include the number of families who do not qualify for Emergency Assistance who are staying in non-EA community shelters throughout the State.”

So in order to access Family Shelter through the state of Massachusetts, you must apply at the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).  If you do not qualify through DHCD, which controls approximately 90% of all shelter beds in the state you have to look for what they call non-EA community beds.  In Worcester, that would be Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) which has a wait list of about 40 families and Friendly House which has a mixture of EA and non-EA spaces, and is always full.  This is very frustrating.  The number of families who are deemed ineligible by the state is ridiculous.  Actually, the rules and regulations change so frequently it is kind of hard to follow. 

Homelessness is on rise in Worcester County: In comparing the 2011 and 2012 HUD Point in Time Count Results, the total number of homeless persons in Worcester County increased by 20%, from 1315 to 1580. This includes a 44% increase in the total number of homeless individuals (without children), from 369 from 2011 to 530 in 2012, and an 8% increase in the total number of homeless families (with children), from 309 in 2011 to 333 in 2012. This count does not include those moving from one temporary location to another or living doubled-up because they lack a home of their own.

Yes!  I see an increase in the number of people coming to do an intake with me at Abby’s.  We will take single women or women with children.  Our length of stay has increased from 2 weeks to 1-3 months.  We are able to look at each person as an individual.  The number of women that are losing their jobs and homes is rising.  Ages in this category go from 30 – 60.  The number of young women aging out of programs and looking for work is rising.  The number of women who have lost their children to DCF and need a roof over their heads to get them back is rising.  (Abby’s House is the only shelter in central Massachusetts that will work with women / DCF with reunifications).  Why DCF and DHCD don’t have a working relationship will remain a mystery to me,  especially when the only barrier to mom getting her child/ren back is housing.  I have also seen an increase of families and individuals trying to relocate to Worcester because they have lived here in the past or a friend told them to come and then couldn’t house them because their landlord said NO or they have a subsidy. 

Youth Homelessness in Worcester: According to the results of the Point-in-Time survey of Youth and Young Adults in Worcester, conducted in October of 2012, conducted by the Roundtable on Youth Homelessness in conjunction with the Compass Project and Clark University, 120 of the 753 young people surveyed (ages 13 to 25) identified as homeless (living in shelters, couch surfing, or on the streets). In addition to these 120 young people, another 220 youth who were housed reported that they had a friend who was homeless. 

This is another area of great concern.  The number of young people who are looking for shelter is sad.  Whatever the cause of this young person having to leave home, or having left home long ago is mute.  Bottom line is they need a roof over their head in order to be safe.  There are programs out there that are working on this.  The Compass Program through LUK is one that is doing great work.  Abby’s can also have 3-4 women between the ages of 18 and 24 at any given moment.  We have hosted women from 18 to 86 since I have been the shelter advocate.  The work of community support people and case managers are so important to help people navigate these systems.

At this time, there is not such thing as emergency shelter in the city of Worcester.  There is no place you can just go if you need a roof over your head for the night.  The PIP used to provide that service, but now, you must do an intake and meet certain criteria in order to stay in their beautiful new triage facility at 25 Queen Street where they have space for 25 men and women on the first floor and 15 single rooms for people moving on towards housing.   People who are trying to relocate to Worcester via the shelter system will find it is a lot more difficult to do nowadays.  Families are being turned away.  I hear daily of people sleeping in their cars. 

Don’t know where this road will lead us … I do know that SMOC, HOAP, Catholic Worker, Friendly House, Abby’s House and Interfaith Hospitality Network will continue to do their best to help who they can.  Yes, other family shelters exist in Worcester, but you must go through DHCD to gain access.  As frustrating as this work is becoming … we cannot give up the battle. 

It is important that anyone working with the homeless knows what is available in the city.  Central Mass Housing Alliance in conjunction with Abby’s House, Friendly House and Worcester Community Connections Coalition, affiliated with YOU Inc.  will be presenting its 2nd Family Housing Information Forum on Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 from 10 am to 3 pm.  It will be an opportunity for Worcester providers to share and learn about resources available for families who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.  Presentation topics will include Homeless Prevention Resources, Navigating the Emergency Assistance System (Family Shelter), Assisting Non-EA Families (those that don’t qualify through the state), Veteran’s Issues, Public Housing in Worcester, Utility Arrearage Resources, Negotiating DCF reunification and housing, Fair Housing Law, including info on CORI and immigration and Domestic Violence Resources.  We do have to limit agencies to 3 people due to the high demand of this info.  If you are working in a Community Support position you do not want to miss out on this great workshop. If you are interested in more info on this workshop please contact parlee@abbyshouse.org and I will get the info to my friend Miranda at CMHA.  We are also planning on an Individual Housing Information Forum for Single folks.  Be on the look out for that also!