Heading Home Announces Formerly Casa Nueva Vida Shelters Become a Division of the Non-Profit

A Message from Heading Home CEO, Danielle Ferrier

Friends of Heading Home, I am delighted and honored to share some exciting news with you. As of July 1, 2022, Casa Nueva Vida’s (CNV) prior programs and staff have joined Heading Home as a division, adding 125 family households to our portfolio of emergency shelter support. With 318 households, Heading Home is now the largest family shelter provider in the State.

As you may know, Casa Nueva Vida supported primarily Spanish-speaking families in Boston and Lawrence. Due to past CEO improprieties, CNV’s mission/programs were at risk of closing. After careful consideration and legal support from Ropes & Gray, Mintz, and our incredible Board of Directors, Heading Home announced that former CNV programs would become a division of Heading Home – keeping their mission intact, families safely and stably housed, and staff employed.

Heading Home leadership has prioritized making this a smooth transition – welcoming CNV staff and clients, ensuring their work is uninterrupted and committing to retaining their cultural identity.

You, our generous supporters and advocates, have given us the fiscal strength to be able to respond at such a time of crisis  – and we are so grateful to the Heading Home community for supporting our work.

We hope you will help us welcome CNV’s staff and clients into the larger Heading Home community and continue to stand tall with our clients on their journeys through and out of homelessness. To support our work in these early transition days, please visit www.headinghomeinc.org/donate.  

With gratitude,

Danielle Ferrier, MBA, LICSW
Chief Executive Officer, Heading Home

About Casa Nueva Vida

Casa Nueva Vida (“House of New Life”) was founded in 1987, in response to increasing numbers of Latinx families experiencing homelessness in the Greater Boston area. The mission is to help homeless families gain the education and skills needed to permanently pull themselves out of poverty and into stable affordable housing. Heading Home – CNV will support 125 families experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston and Lawrence.

Read the Boston Globe Article

Spanish-language shelter to remain open in new partnership

By: Nick Stoico, Globe Correspondent

Published Online: 07/14/2022 Published in Newspaper: 07/15/2022

 

“On the verge of shutting down after the state pulled its funding, the only Massachusetts homeless shelter network with a largely Spanish-speaking staff will continue operations under a new partnership with another local nonprofit.

 

Casa Nueva Vida, which has shelters in Boston and Lawrence, is now part of Heading Home, one of the largest emergency housing and shelter providers in Greater Boston, officials said in a statement.

 

Heading Home will handle financial and administrative work for properties formerly managed by Casa Nueva Vida and retain the majority of its staff, officials said. Some 125 families will now come under the care of Heading Home, bringing its total to 318 families.

 

“It is a privilege to have Casa Nueva Vida join Heading Home as a division and we will work with their team to keep their shelters intact, families safely and stably housed, and their staff employed,” said Danielle Ferrier, CEO of Heading Home. “Preserving CNV’s cultural identity is a growth opportunity for us, a chance for us to learn and care for the families and individuals we serve from very diverse backgrounds.”

 

The change took effect July 1, according to the state Department of Housing and Community Development. A spokesperson said the department has amended its emergency assistance shelter contract with Heading Home for fiscal year 2023 to reflect the added capacity.

 

Casa Nueva Vida, which had provided shelter to homeless people for more than 30 years, was set to shut down after the state told administrators in April it had no plans to renew its contract.

 

The state’s decision to cut ties came as its former longtime executive director, Manuel Duran, faces criminal charges for allegedly stealing at least $1.5 million from the nonprofit and millions of dollars from the state that was meant to support the homeless.

 

In January, Duran agreed to pay $6 million to settle a civil lawsuit brought by Attorney General Maura Healey. Healey’s office alleged he stole $2.29 million from the agency, but under the state’s false claims law, the state was able to collect triple the amount.

 

Linda Johnson, who has worked with Casa Nueva Vida since 2014 and now heads the new division within Heading Home, said the shelter’s officials were invited to a meeting with DHCD in April and were expecting to negotiate a new contract. Instead, they learned their current contract, which was set to expire at the end of June, would be their last.

 

“We were blindsided,” Johnson said Thursday. “We thought we were entering negotiations when in fact we were being terminated.”

 

The list of families receiving services from Casa Nueva Vida was going to be divided up among other area shelters, Johnson said.

 

Ferrier said the state reached out to Heading Home and asked if it could add families to its portfolio to assist a struggling agency that was set to lose its contract at the end of June. She later learned the agency was Casa Nueva Vida and asked the state if there was more Heading Home could do to help.

 

“We just didn’t want to see them go under,” Ferrier said Thursday. “We don’t want to see folks punished for one person’s poor behavior.”

 

Johnson said she is grateful to Heading Home for stepping in to help.

 

“While everyone else was running away from us, Heading Home ran toward us and said, ‘We’re going to try to keep you all together,’” Johnson said.

 

“The support that we’ve received is unbelievable, the welcoming is overwhelming,” she added. “They’ve been committed to making us feel a part of the Heading Home family since day one.”

 

About 70 percent of the population Casa Nueva Vida serves is Hispanic, and about 85 to 90 percent of the staff speaks Spanish, Johnson said. Maintaining the nonprofit’s culture has been an important part of the transition, she said.

 

“There are so many things that bring people to the shelter or [cause them to become] homeless,” Johnson said. “If you can’t articulate or communicate, all that does is add to your fears, add to your anxiety, and the situation just gets worse. … We have to be able to meet their needs and help them rise.”

 

Nick Stoico can be reached at nick.stoico@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickStoico.

 

Read the Full Press Release

Heading Home Announces Formerly Casa Nueva Vida Shelters Become a Division of the Non-Profit

At the forefront of lifting hundreds of families and individuals out of homelessness

 

Boston (July 15, 2022) – Heading Home, one of Greater Boston’s leading providers of shelter and supportive housing for individuals and families, is pleased to announce Casa Nueva Vida’s prior (CNV) programs became a division of Heading Home, effective July 1, 2022.

 

Heading Home’s approach to ending homelessness in Greater Boston is unique, supporting people of all ages from infants to the elderly, all of whom are extremely low-income. Like Heading Home, Casa Nueva Vida seeks to end homelessness, though with the express intention of serving Latinx families in Boston and Lawrence.

 

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has expanded its contract with Heading Home to support its current programming in addition to that of CNV.

 

The new CNV division is under the direction of Heading Home’s CEO, Danielle Ferrier, LICSW, MBA. With the same commitment and rigor, the Heading Home team will manage all administrative and financial functions of formerly CNV-managed properties, and members of CNV’s caring and innovative staff will continue to serve the families who call CNV home.

 

“It is a privilege to have Casa Nueva Vida join Heading Home as a division and we will work with their team to keep their shelters intact, families safely and stably housed, and their staff employed,” said Ferrier. “Preserving CNV’s cultural identity is a growth opportunity for us, a chance for us to learn and care for the families and individuals we serve from very diverse backgrounds in the best ways possible as we move forward together.”

 

“Heading Home does an exemplary job serving families who are homeless and working to move into permanent housing, similar to the services needed by the families served by Casa Nueva Vida,“ said Stephen Davis, Co-President of The Davis Companies and Heading Home’s Board Chair. “It just didn’t seem like the best-case scenario was to cause more disruption in the lives of the families served by CNV or in the lives of staff who were doing the right thing. Preserving the best parts of CNV seems like a fitting solution and provides the continuity needed for those involved.”

 

With this new division, Heading Home will add 125 families in shelter under its new contract with the state, bringing its total to 318 families, the largest provider in the State.

 

“We are excited and proud for our programs to become a division of Heading Home, jointly preserving the cultural identity of CNV,” said Linda Johnson, CNV’s Contracts Manager who has moved into the role of Director of Programs – CNV at Heading Home. “While we share the same mission to end homelessness, we are confident that by combining resources and experiences, and embracing our individual staff and cultures, the collective work of Heading Home and CNV will be ever stronger. Together we will do even more to end homelessness in Greater Boston and Lawrence.”

 

Darlene Vaccaro was once a CNV client and is now a supervisor working with Heading Home – CNV, Lawrence, “I just wanted to express my gratitude that the relationship with Heading Home has been going well from my position. The changes that I have seen for staff have been nothing but positive and for the most part easily adapted to.” Vaccaro continued, “we appreciate all the effort put in to make the transition be as smooth as possible for both residents and staff. As a former resident, I am able to put myself in their position and help to dispel their concerns and fears during this time. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to work in an environment that strives to do the best for our families.”

 

“My co-workers and families are feeling the support of the staff to ensure that we employees and families feel calm and safe during this transition,” according to Maria Gutierrez, Housing Case Manager for CNV-Heading Home. “We are delighted to be part of an agency whose mission is the welfare of workers and families. In such a short time we have seen a very positive change, the families are very calm and happy because Heading Home gave them the opportunity and peace of mind to continue united with the same staff, the families like them very much.”

 

Ferrier said that both divisions will continue to focus on providing a supportive pathway to self-sufficiency. Clients of both divisions qualify as extremely low-income and the pandemic significantly impacted their financial well-being, including rent increases, housing stock challenges, an evolving job market and a lack of childcare. For Heading Home’s working clients who pre-pandemic earned $19,000 annually, average incomes fell below $13,000, so housing and supportive services are invaluable. Heading Home works on an evidence-based model providing emergency, transitional and permanent housing and support services knowing that evidence suggests economic and social mobility occur once housed.

 

Heading Home

Heading Home is one of Greater Boston’s largest housing and shelter providers, working with 1,400 clients annually, more than half of whom are children. Heading Home’s unique housing-plus-services model has yielded a 16-year success rate of 90% of clients remaining permanently housed. Last year, fiscal year 2021, 97% of the households that moved out of shelter maintained their housing success for one year and beyond.

 

Casa Nueva Vida (CNV)

Casa Nueva Vida is a nonprofit, transitional shelter for homeless families founded in 1987 to respond to the needs of the increasing number of Latinx families experiencing homelessness. Its mission is to help homeless families gain the education and skills needed to permanently pull themselves out of poverty and into stable affordable housing. CNV grew to serve a diverse population, but its bilingual expertise continues to allow it to provide specialized programs and services to Latinx families.

 

Download the full press release here: Heading Home Welcomes Casa Nueva Vida Division