Tag Archives: homelessness

🏘️🏘️Common Myths About Homelessness🏘️

By Lorie Martiska

Lorie. photo submitted.

Many people believe common myths about homelessness. These myths can foster a climate of fear and intolerance for people experiencing homelessness. The reality is that homelessness is not an individual problem – yet these myths tend to lay the blame on individuals. Homelessness is a societal problem and one that communities, providers, cities and states must work together to address.

What are some of these myths?

🏘️1. Homeless people should just
get a job.

According to the Council for the
Homeless, a common myth is that
“these people just need to get a job”.
In fact, many of the homeless living in shelters DO have a job or even more than one. A recent report concluded to afford a 2-bedroom apartment in Worcester, a family would need to earn close to $60,000 a year. For those who are unemployed, living in a car, a tent, or on the street, fnding and keeping a job is a daunting task when they are struggling with day- to- day

🏘️2. People are homeless by choice.

Being homeless can be stressful,
humiliating, exhausting and
dangerous. People would rarely, if
ever choose to be homeless. Some
homeless people do choose to live
outside rather than in a shelter because they have pets or possessions they want to retain and protect. Some people are living with physical, mental health symptoms or addictions that make their lives and decisions more diffcult. Some people became homeless because of a series of unfortunate events – loss of job, loss of family, or other circumstances. Regardless of the reason, it is almost never because they chose to be homeless.

🏘️3. People who are homeless are all dangerous, violent criminals.

Like the general population, the
vast majority of homeless individuals are focused on their own struggles and challenges and not engaged in violence or crime of any type. In fact, homeless people are far more likely to be victims of crime rather than perpetrators.

🏘️4. Housing or shelter should come
with conditions, like being clean
and sober.

The conventional wisdom used to
be that housing should be dangled
like a carrot to entice someone to be treated for substance use disorders frst. Evidence has proven that an approach called Housing First is far more effective. Homeless people can fnd stability and healing when provided with empowering supports focused on stable housing frst. It
is very diffcult to address medical, mental health challenges and/or addictions when living on the streets or in an unsafe and unstable situation.

🏘️5. Most people will cycle back onto the streets and will not stay housed.

Rapid Rehousing and Permanent
Supportive Housing, highly effective strategies that combine affordable housing with intensive coordinated services, can provide needed assistance to help people remain housed. A recent study found that Rapid Rehousing ( quickly housing someone who has become homeless along with supportive services when needed), resulted in 70% – 90% of people remaining housed after a year.

🏘️6. There is nothing I can do to
affect homelessness.

There are things we can do. Be kind. For those who are unhoused, being treated with kindness is a rare commodity. Your act of kindness could be the only sign of humanity they experience throughout
the day. Volunteer to help. Shelters and other programs for the homeless welcome volunteers who donate meals, activities, clothing and their time.

Speak Up. Advocate for person
centered trauma-informed supports
that meet people where they are at.

Advocate for community solutions
and vote for people who support community-wide and evidence-based approaches to addressing homelessness.

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

Dorrie – always in style! … ‘Tis the season for helping the less fortunate – people and animals!

Dorrie says dropping off clean, warm clothing and blankets at the Mustard Seed soup kitchen on Piedmont Street is the giving thing to do this Christmas!🐺🐶🐕🐺🎄🎄🎄🎁

By Dorrie Maynard

Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, Meilleurs Voeux, Felices Fiestas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza, and any others that I may have missed!

As we all go on about with our busy preparations for the festivities this season with family and friends, please take some time to remember and acknowledge those who don’t have people to spend the holidays with. There are many out there who don’t even have a safe and warm place to sleep at night.

I know there is a fine line between enabling and helping, but just for this season we can all try to not judge others until we have walked in their shoes or know their battles. Some are out there because they are drinking and/or drugging and choose to continue to do so, and others are out there because of circumstances that they may have contributed to or had no assistance to handle.

A place like the Mustard Seed on Piedmont street is a great place to start giving back to your community! You can drop off gently used, clean, warm clothing, groceries, toiletries, sleeping bags, blankets, pairs of socks, or even offer to prepare and serve a meal to the sometimes more than 100 hungry people who visit daily.

The Mustard Seed is open Monday through Friday, 4 pm – 6 pm.

Other local places to consider: Abby’s House, the Veteran’s Shelter, St. John’s Feeding program, your local senior center, the Boy’s & Girls Club of Worcester, the Friendly House, the Salvation Army, just to name a few.


Children at the Friendly House Annual Christmas Party, held this past Sunday at FH, 36 Wall St., met Santa, got a holiday gift, had fun and were treated to entertainment because of the efforts and love of volunteers – and FH Executive Director Gordon Hargrove! Donations of gently used (or new!), warm, clean clothing and blankets are always needed this time of year at the Friendly House!


I don’t like to give money to pan handlers, but I do try to always have some granola bars in my car to hand
out. There was one man on a corner I recognized from working at a local food pantry, and I offered him a bar.

He said, “No thanks. I don’t have any teeth.” And then he smiled at me.

I didn’t have have anything else to give him, but he was gracious when I offered something.

I also try to have on hand: a pair of gloves, mittens, hat, scarf this time of year to give out to folks on street corners. I know it might be their attempt to look cold, thus making people
feel more sorry for them, but at least I feel better knowing they have something warm as I drive off.

If you are more into helping animals, as some are, for various reasons, another suggestion is to give to your local animal rescue league/society. They are always in need of used, clean blankets and towels, rolls of paper towels, bleach, cat litter, pet food, etc. You can always call ahead or look on line at their wish lists to find out what they truly are in need of, as things change daily, depending upon what they have or have run out of.

Help animals who may need food, shelter or a forever home!

I always believe it is best to donate to small local rescues, as they help animals in your area. I don’t like to donateto the places that you see ads for on TV as they are paying for those ads, and those “free” t-shirts or bags
that they are willing to send you for your donation aren’t “free” either.

Something else that people can do this holiday season and throughout the year: Volunteer!!! Pick a passion! Get involved in your community! It may take some time to find the perfect place where you feel like you belong, but there are plenty of places out there
that are in need of regular volunteers.

So with all this said, I would like to wish everyone a very warm, safe, happy and healthy holiday season. All the best in the coming New Year! In this very difficult world that we live in, try to have a little compassion in your heart and empathy for others. Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards All!

A harsh winter = homeless emergency in Worcester

By Gordon T. Davis

There is a human rights emergency in Worcester.  Homeless people are suffering in the more than 600 hours of continuous temperatures below freezing. The Worcester City Council’s Committee on Public Health, chaired by Councillor Sarai Rivera, held hearings on the matter February 23.

The Triage Center for the homeless, located in the Piedmont neighborhood on Queen Street, has exceeded its capacity daily because of the extreme cold and snow.

The facility is licensed for 25 beds, but some nights more than 100 people spend the night there. This number is not representative of the number of people who need shelter, as many people do not meet the criteria of the Triage Center or choose to remain outdoors.  One person who attended the meeting, Paul, said that the staff of the Triage Center was sometimes confused about the requirements.

The number of people sheltering in the Triage Center has brought complaints from the Shepherd/King Street Neighborhood Association which was represented by former Worcester City Councillor Barbara Haller.  Haller and I have locked horns before on numerous issues, but in this case I think she is right despite her motives.  She said the Triage Center was never intended to shelter more than 100 people on a daily basis. Forty people were acceptable, albeit a number exceeding the Center’s license for 25 beds.  The old PIP Shelter had 37 residents when it closed its doors and was replaced by the Triage Center.

South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) runs the Triage Center on the campus of Community Healthlink, a part of UMass Hospital. The SMOC representative, Charles Gagnon, detailed the efforts it was making to reduce the “overflow” of people to the Triage Center. He said the goal was to develop a single point of entry for the people needing shelter; this is the vision developed by the Federal agency of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Through HUD, SMOC has 50 units of housing, 100 vouchers for housing and 15 housing slots.

SMOC said it was looking at a long-term solution of moving homeless people into housing.

Gagnon also said the harsh winter, the closure of the Long Island Center in Boston, and the periodic mercy patrols by the Worcester Police have a part to play in the overcrowding. Although he admitted he should have included the city administration/council and neighbors sooner in the discussion of the overcrowding, he felt, at the time, the extreme weather and demand on the Triage Center would subside.

Councillor Rivera said the system is broken. Mary Keefe, the district’s state representative,  said she was just learning of the issue.  Hopefully, Representative Keefe will come up with a strategy that the City of Worcester can take to the State.

Councillor Rivera is right in that the system is broken. There does not seem to be the political will to resolve the underlying causes that make people “homeless”:  an economic system in which we live from pay check to pay check, a devastated human services safety net, the health issues of the homelessness, and the prejudice against even the sight of the homeless and “panhandlers.”

Although not a surprise, it is a disappointment that more people, politicians and Worcester political candidates did not come to the hearing.

I suppose a human rights crisis does not matter, when the people in crisis cannot vote or contribute $$$ to a political campaign.

Help the homeless stay warm!

We posted this info weeks ago … in case you’ve forgotten …


Warm Winter Clothing Drive For the Homeless

Pleasant Street Baptist Church

165 Pleasant St.

10 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Saturday, January 24

Go through your closets this coming week! If you, your partner and/or kids don’t wear it any more, DONATE IT!

Volunteers will be accepting winter coats, jackets, sweaters, hats, mittens, gloves, socks, scarves … For men, women, teens, even little kids …

Free coffee and donuts for all who stop by and make a donation!

Go, Worcester, go!

– R. T.

Reinstatement of Friday Housing Counseling Hours

From the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance

Effective Immediately: Reinstatement of Friday Housing Counseling Hours

Effective immediately, CMHA is reinstating Housing Counseling Walk-ins on Friday between 1 to 3:30.

This is a return to our normal Housing Counseling Hours. Thank for your patience.
Housing Counseling Walk-in Hours:

Monday 1 to 3:30 p.m.

Wednesday 9 to 11 a.m.

Thursday 5 to 7 p.m.

Friday 1 to 3:30

No Tuesday Walk-in Hours

6 Institute Road, P.O. Box 3

Emergency Line ext. 171
Tenant Line ext. 172
Landlord Line ext. 173

Love Shouldn’t Hurt! October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Parlee and Athena 2

Parlee Jones (left) – a woman of beauty and consequence! Thank you, Parlee, for all your great work in Worcester and beyond!

By Parlee Jones

Peace,  Worcester people!

In my position as Shelter Advocate at Abby’s House, some of the bravest women I have met are the women who are fleeing a Domestic Violence situation.  They are willing to walk away from everything they own, with the clothes on their back, going into the unknown.  Some willing to meet unknown folks at a train station or bus station to go to a new place, a new home.  Some with children, some without children.  Some very young, some middle aged, some older women.  Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, all folks.  Trying to get away from the one they love and who is supposed to be loving them.  Willing and ready to start over again.  Just worried about finding a place to stop the pain.

On September 15, 2010, the National Network to End Domestic Violence did a 24 hour Census of Domestic Violence Shelters and services reported the following information.  1,746 out of 1,920, or 91%, of identified local domestic violence programs in the United States and territories participated in the 2010 National Census of Domestic Violence Services. The following figures represent the information provided by 1,746 participating programs about services provided during the 24-hour survey period.


70,648 Victims Served in One Day

37,519 domestic violence victims found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs.  33,129 adults and children received non-residential assistance and services, including individual counseling, legal advocacy, and children’s support groups.

23,522 Hotline Calls Answered

Domestic violence hotlines are a lifeline for victims in danger, providing support, information, safety planning, and resources. In the 24-hour survey period, local domestic violence programs answered 22,292 calls and the National Domestic Violence Hotline answered 1,230 calls, resulting in more than 16 hotline calls every minute.

Despite helping over 70,500 people on September 15, 2010, domestic violence programs were unable to meet 9,541 requests for services because of a lack of funding, staffing and resources. Although programs have historically struggled to find resources to provide comprehensive services, funding cuts, reduced donations, and dwindling community resources are severely straining programs’ ability to help survivors get back on their feet.

If you are a domestic violence victim, let the people who care about you help you.

1. Confide in someone you trust. If you have a friend or relative who cares about your safety, tell them about the abuse. Sharing a burden with someone makes it lighter. If you’ve left your abusive relationship and are feeling lonely and tempted to return, talk it out with a friend who knows the situation.

2. Don’t let others talk you into taking action that doesn’t feel right to you. You are the only one who knows if you’re ready to leave your relationship, go to the police, or seek emergency shelter. Make your own decisions, based on your own comfort level.

3. Leave an “emergency kit” with a friend. This could include extra money, a set of car keys, a change of clothes and copies of important documents (driver’s license, birth certificates, social security card, health insurance records, documentation of abuse) that may come in handy in an emergency. Think of what you might need if you have to leave your home in a hurry.

4. Ask a friend to accompany you to important appointments. If you have medical appointments, are going to the police, to court, or to see a lawyer, take a friend along for moral support.

5. Make sure a friend knows about your Personal Safety Plan. Start making your own Personal Safety Plan Go over it with a friend and give that friend a copy of the plan.

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.  A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.

In Worcester we have been acknowledging the national awareness of this terrible epidemic with quite a few events. [Still to happen]:

October 27 ~ Daybreak Breakfast:  7:45 – 9:30 am Holy Cross Hogan Campus Center (more info 5608 767 2505 x 3009 $35)

October 29 ~ 6 pm to 8 pm ~ Spoken Word and Music Honorary Concert at the Worcester Public Library. This is going to be an incredible event, with some of Worcester’s most amazing poets and singers! Please join us! 

All month long the Empty Place at the Table Exhibit will be showing at different places including Worcester City Hall, Worcester Public Library, Heywood Hospital, MWCC Student Lounge, Leominster City Hall, Health Alliance Hospital, Holy Cross, Fitchburg State, Quinsigamond Community College Student Life Center, UMASS Hospital and the Worcester Police Department.

For more info on these events you can call Daybreak at 508 767 2505.

National Network to End Domestic Violence http://nnedv.org/

Jane Doe (Mass. Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence http://janedoe.org/

Daybreak http://www.ywcacentralmass.org/domestic-violence

MassResources.org  http://www.massresources.org/domestic-violence-agencies.html

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!

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!

We agree with City Councilor Joe O’Brien…

By Rosalie Tirella

… The city manager should follow through with the panhandler/homeless outreach program the city was touting a while back.

Last night, the Worcester City Council voted to make panhandling in Worcester illegal (for the most part). Police officers can be called to shoo away pretty much any person asking for money and issue them a $50 fine. The panhandler won’t go to jail; he/she may have to do community service. Good luck with that one, folks!

Instead of sucking up the valuable time of our city cops, cops who can be put to better use WALKING our inner-city neighborhoods, why not just hire one or two homeless out-reach workers? Kids or adults with some background in human services. People who can go to the panhandlers and tell them where they can go for food, shelter, a hot meal, advocacy etc. Hopefully, that person will even be able to give the panhandler “a lift” to the right social service agency/church, etc.

This new panhandler policy makes the city severe, unforgiving AND it doesn’t eradicate the root problems of homelessness/mental illness and poverty that panhandling is a symptom of.

The city council knows this, but it’s much easier to sweep stuff (and people) under the rug.