United Way, MHSA, CHAPA, Housing Advocates Support Baker-Polito Administration’s New Targeted, Flexible Funding Pilot to Support Individuals and Families Experiencing Homelessness
May 25, 2022
Original article available here
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA), Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA), Pine Street Inn, Father Bill’s & MainSpring, and Heading Home today announce their support of the Baker-Polito Administration’s proposed new “One Door” pilot program to provide permanent supportive housing to individuals and families experiencing homelessness. The organizations praise Governor Baker’s proposal to pilot a new approach that would streamline the funding of permanent supportive housing and enable individuals, families, youth and young adults experiencing homelessness to access safe, stable housing and services more quickly and seamlessly.
On Thursday, May 19, Governor Baker filed a $1.7 billion supplemental Fiscal Year 2022 budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which included $10 million in funding towards permanent supportive housing operating and service costs for individuals, youth and young adults, and families experiencing homelessness. Research shows that supportive housing is an effective and efficient solution, providing affordable housing and intensive, coordinated services to individuals who are struggling with housing insecurity, employment, financial hardship, substance use disorders, and chronic physical and behavioral health issues.
This new program pilots a strategy that Rep. Joan Meschino, United Way and a broad coalition of 70 housing providers, healthcare institutions, and nonprofit and philanthropic leaders have advocated for over the past year. House Bill 3838 would align existing resources to create a Massachusetts Flexible Housing Pool (MFHP), a nimble pot of public and private funds, and expand supportive housing to enable swift, equitable and targeted deployment of funds to help adults, youth, and families experiencing chronic homelessness.
“Providing permanent supportive housing is necessary as we take a new approach to addressing homelessness in the Commonwealth,” said Representative Joan Meschino (D-Hull). “By blending public and private funding streams together and creating a single, flexible funding source, this bill will offer critical assistance to residents wherever they may fall along a continuum of need.”
In February, the Joint Committee on Housing reported the bill out favorably. The flexible pool of funding proposed by H3838 and the “One Door” model announced by the Commonwealth bundle capital, operating and supportive services funding streams so that the most vulnerable community members receive the housing and services they need, which shifts the burden from providers to pull resources together from multiple sources.
“The implementation of this permanent supportive housing pilot program will help advance a coordinated, comprehensive response to the crisis of homelessness that continues to impact our most vulnerable individuals and families across the Commonwealth,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “We are so appreciative of the partner organizations that have joined us in advocating for this model and we will continue to push for a sustained flexible funding stream to support continued regional coordination and integrated services for those most in need.”
The FY22 supplemental budget proposed last week by the Governor will now move to the House of Representatives and State Senate for approval. United Way and its partners will also continue to press for passage of H3838, filed for the first time this session and currently before the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing, to codify and expand the approach of the Commonwealth’s new pilot program.
“MHSA is grateful to the Baker-Polito Administration for this investment in much-needed flexible funding for permanent supportive housing,” said Joe Finn, MHSA President & Executive Director. “The creation of this new permanent supportive housing line item is an incredible step forward in our collective efforts to end homelessness in Massachusetts and would not have been possible without the years of advocacy from MHSA, MHSA member agencies, and the Building a Supportive Housing Pipeline Coalition, chaired by United Way, CHAPA, and MHSA. Most importantly, this reflects the dedicated work of provider agencies across the Commonwealth who have demonstrated again and again that low-threshold supportive housing works.”
“Pine Street Inn is grateful to the administration, United Way and MHSA for working to ensure that the ‘support’ in supportive housing is funded,” said Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director at Pine Street Inn. “It is a recognition that supportive housing is one of the best tools we have to end long-term homelessness. The One Door initiative is a good start to creating long-term, sustainable funding for this essential work.”
“This new strategy creates a more efficient funding process for direct-care housing providers like ours, and we are grateful to everyone who made this pilot program happen,” said John Yazwinski, President & CEO of Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS), which operates more than 600 permanent supportive housing units in Southern Massachusetts. “Looking ahead, the passage of H3838 would serve as a critical long-term investment in the services providing hope and stability to our most vulnerable neighbors.”
“Heading Home is supportive of the One Door pilot approach, a critical first step in ensuring flexible, pooled funding to address programmatic and housing needs of families, individuals, and youth who are homeless,” said Danielle Ferrier, CEO of Heading Home. “It is incredibly encouraging to see this next stage of development of comprehensive, state-wide systems to address this issue and better serve the Commonwealth’s families, individuals and youth experiencing housing insecurity.”
United Way and supportive housing organizations continue to advocate for systems change and innovative solutions to end homelessness and advance long-term housing solutions throughout Massachusetts. The Supportive Housing Coalition, a partnership between United Way, CHAPA and MHSA convenes more than 70 providers, developers, funders, and advocates regularly to develop an expanded focus on system alignment and statewide coordination of homelessness services, collecting and using data to inform decisions in the sector and support policy and advocacy.
The Massachusetts Pay for Success Initiative to Reduce Chronic Homelessness – a partnership between the Commonwealth, MHSA, United Way, and CSH – demonstrated that the supportive housing model works. Over six years, this Pay for Success Initiative served more than 1,000 vulnerable individuals and has demonstrated savings on healthcare costs in the amount of $5,257 per person, per year. Through the program, 84% of individuals experiencing chronic and long-term homelessness who received supportive services and a housing voucher remain housed one year later.
The Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Massachusetts. Through advocacy, collaboration, education, and innovative program development, MHSA focuses on evidence-based solutions that reduce public reliance on emergency resources and prioritize access to stable housing and individualized support services. MHSA draws on the on-the-ground experience of its almost 100 member agencies from across Massachusetts to inform its advocacy and program development. MHSA’s unique position as an intermediary between public agencies and homeless service providers enables it to create solutions to homelessness that have the greatest impact. For more information, please visit www.mhsa.net.
Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA) is the leading statewide affordable housing policy organization in Massachusetts, bringing together stakeholders from across the housing and community development field to build consensus around solutions. Established in 1967, CHAPA advocates for increased opportunity and expanded access to housing so that every person in Massachusetts can have a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home. For more information, visit www.chapa.org.
About United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley is a leading civic engagement organization dedicated to responding to our region’s most pressing issues like housing stability, economic mobility, healthy child development and educational success. We listen and work with communities to identify areas of greatest need and innovative approaches to address them, and then mobilize donors and corporate partners to provide resources to create positive lasting change. We have a vision and a mandate to empower stronger, more equitable communities, and we have the scale and reach to help. Our deep partnerships with hundreds of nonprofit organizations, state and municipal leaders, and businesses make us the region’s go-to mobilizer to address urgent needs and activate comprehensive, long-term solutions. More information is available at www.unitedwaymassbay.org.