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Baker Unveils Bold Plan To Eliminate Teen Homelessness

Feb 05, 2019 11:15AM

Governor Baker

 FRAMINGHAM – During an event this week at Framingham State University, Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito highlighted a comprehensive plan to end youth homelessness in the Commonwealth, announced funding to local providers and a new housing pilot to support homeless youth. 

Joined by Health and Human Services Secretary Marylou Sudders, Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH) Linn Torto, Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago and Framingham State President Dr. F. Javier Cevallos, the administration outlined how the Commonwealth will help connect homeless youth with education, employment, and housing supports and services.

“Our Administration has taken a targeted approach to addressing homelessness across the Commonwealth over the last several years, and this pilot program serves as another important tool,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to working with our community colleges and state universities to implement this program to give students a stable place to live so they can thrive academically and have access to the necessary supports in their own communities that will help them continue their path to self-sufficiency. 

“Preventing and ending youth homelessness is a top priority for offices throughout our administration,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “Our budget proposal for FY20 continues the highest commitment ever to address youth homelessness so that we can continue to intervene and work with local partners and leaders on college Campuses across Massachusetts to implement the type of support services needed for young people experiencing a crises.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has made a commitment to assisting the state’s most vulnerable populations, including homeless youth, families and individuals.  Governor Baker convened the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness (ICHH) which serves as the body responsible for implementing the plan to prevent and end homelessness. ICHH works on several initiatives increasing effectiveness and collaboration among state agencies and with community partners to ensure every person has a safe, affordable place to call home. Across the United States, there are an estimated 1.7 million - 4.2 million unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness. In Massachusetts, it is estimated that there are at least 1,800 young adults every year who experience homelessness. Among unaccompanied homeless youth, students who are enrolled in the state’s colleges and universities represent a population of unique interest and growing concern. 

“The $3 million in funding to ten community partners throughout the state will help youth and young adults with the supports they need to prevent or end homelessness,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services, and co-chair of the ICHH, Marylou Sudders. “Homeless youth and young adults should have the same opportunities provided to them as others to help them succeed.”

The 10 community partners will address youth and young adult homelessness in a variety of ways, targeted to meet the specific demographic and geographic needs of each region. Funds can be used for housing, transportation, education and case management support. Each region has developed a winter response for youth who are without housing during the cold months as well as specific strategies to address the unique needs of undocumented, unaccompanied youth.

Grantee

Service Area

Grant Total

Community Action Pioneer Valley

 

Tri-County (Berkshire, Franklin & Hampshire counties)

$325,000

City of Springfield

 

Hampden County

$316,089

L.U.K. Crisis Center

 

Worcester County

$325,000

Catholic  Social Services of Fall River

Bristol County

$300,000

County of Barnstable

 

Cape Cod & Islands (Barnstable, Dukes & Nantucket counties)

$232,841

Father Bill’s and MainSpring

 

Plymouth & East Norfolk counties

$300,000

Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development

 

Essex County

$325,000

Community Teamwork

North Middlesex County

$325,000

South Middlesex Opportunity Council

 

Metro West (South Middlesex & West Norfolk counties)

$272,340

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

 

Metro Boston (Boston, Arlington, Belmont, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Melrose, Milton, Newton, Revere, Somerville, Waltham, Watertown, Winthrop)

$325,000


The Baker-Polito Administration also announced today the Massachusetts Student Housing Security Pilot to provide dorm rooms to homeless students attending community college.  The Pilot launched at the following four campus sites earlier this month in partnership with a local community colleges: 

•                 Bridgewater State University & Massasoit Community College

•                 Framingham State University & MassBay Community College

•                 Worcester State University & Quinsigamond Community College

•                 UMass Lowell & Middlesex Community College

 

Each of the four-year institutions will make up to five beds available for students experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. To participate students must be:

•                 Enrolled full-time in a public college or university participating in the pilot.

•                 Degree-seeking and in good academic standing as defined by home institution.

•                 Age 25 or younger.

•                 Referred by campus staff or community service provider, or self-applied.

 

“A college degree is a proven pathway out of poverty. We are hopeful this housing pilot will provide a stable place for students to live so they can thrive academically, obtain their degrees, and change their lives. Together with Higher Education Commissioner Carlos Santiago, who has spearheaded this work, I wish to thank the community colleges and state universities that have partnered to help these students,” Education Secretary James Peyser said.

Campuses will be reimbursed by the state for the cost of the dorm bed occupancy for an 18-month period, for the remainder of fiscal year 2019 through fiscal year 2020, including all summer and semester breaks. Campuses will cover the cost of providing meals and snacks for students, with support from local service providers where available.

“College life is challenging enough without having to worry about how you will pay for your next meal or where you are going to sleep at night,” said Framingham State University President F. Javier Cevallos. “The new housing security pilot is designed to eliminate this burden for our most vulnerable students so they can focus on earning their degree, which is the key to a financially-secure future.”

Massachusetts developed a plan to address unaccompanied Homeless Youth that included interviews and focus groups with homeless youth, feedback from state and local provider partners, and data reviews. The six recommendations include:

1.     Implementing a coordinated statewide response to youth homelessness;

2.     Expanding the current spectrum of accountable and evidence informed models of housing and services;

3.     Enhancing early identification, connection, and outreach systems to assist homeless young people as they transition from high school to college. Liaisons from local school districts and student affairs staff from local campuses held their first convening at the University of Massachusetts Lowell in November, in a bid to share resources and become better equipped to help young people access available resources and support in higher education.

4.     Improving education, employment, and credentialing opportunities in order to support young people’s access to long-term, sustainable employment and income;

5.     Creating systematic outcome measurement systems and data sharing opportunities; and

6.     Creating a structure to support authentic youth and young adult involvement statewide.

 

“Youth and young adult homelessness can be solved with targeted and incremental investment in the housing and services tailored to their needs,” said Linn Torto, Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. “The funding for homeless and at risk youth will be dedicated to developing a network of interventions, services and housing models in each region of the state so that every young adult who experiences homelessness will have timely access to emergency and transitional support.”

 

“Ensuring our young adults are able to study, gain skills, and prepare for a meaningful career is paramount,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “This new initiative is an important addition to the network of supportive services and efforts to ensure all Massachusetts residents have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing. We will continue to work with our partners at the Executive Offices of Education and Health and Human Services to provide support to our most vulnerable communities and ensure they have the resources to succeed.”

 

January 2018 point-in-time count conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development identified 20,068 individuals in Massachusetts who experienced homelessness. In 2018, Massachusetts welcomed thousands of evacuees from Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria. This influx, with more than 600 households living in hotel shelter through the Massachusetts Evacuee Transitional Assistance Reserve (METAR) program, increased the point-in-time count. Since January 2018, METAR and partners worked closely with evacuee households to find permanent housing or assist in their return to Puerto Rico. Before the METAR program ended in early January 2019, there were less than 30 households still living in shelter, and more than 90% of households living in hotel shelter had already transitioned to long-term housing solutions.

 

The Baker-Polito Administration has also made reducing the state’s reliance on hotels and motels as shelter for homeless families a high priority. At the beginning of the Baker-Polito Administration, there were 1,557 families in more than 40 hotel and motels and as of January 29, 2019, there were less than 30 families living in just one motel. Massachusetts has seen a 98% decrease in families living in motels and hotels, and a 20% decrees in overall caseload since the beginning of the Administration. Beside a one-year increase in family homelessness due to an influx of refugees from Puerto Rico due to Hurricane Maria, Massachusetts has seen a decline in family homelessness since 2015.

 

To learn more about the plan or the interagency council on housing and homelessness please visit the ICHH website.

 

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