It was a potluck dinner with everyone helping out. The staff, volunteers and families brought large plates of delicious homemade food to share with each other and the legislators. The dinner was held to thank the legislators with whom Housing Families, Inc. have been working with through the year.
These legislators were able to get HFI and their allies much needed funds to run their programs. The Representatives were Paul Donato, Steven Ultrino, Christine Barber and Paul Brodeur. Also, they gave a special thank you to Senator Jason Lewis.
These legislators were able to get much needed funds to enable HFI and their allies, i.e. Youth Harbor(a program for unaccompanied youth between the ages of 18-and-22 years old), RAFT(residential assistance for families in transition) and others.
An increase of $18.7 million which allowed another 900 to 1,000 new vouchers was awarded to Massachusetts rental voucher program. This program provides housing stability and security to extremely low income households, including elders, disabled individuals and families with children. A home-based line item which helps prevent homelessness by assisting with first and last months rent, paying the security deposit and other specifics, was awarded an increase of $2.3million. Also RAFT and several employment and youth items were selected to receive funding. The Children’s Program at HFI received $100,000. This will give HFI the funds to extend their ever-growing after-school program.
A big thank you went out to the legislators who worked diligently for these funded programs. A shout out to the volunteers who help out with childcare so that the parents can go to important advocate meetings at HFI. And, a special thanks to those family members who keep coming back to share their stories to help others, despite potential negative feedback they may receive from an uninformed public. And the legislators thanked Housing Families Inc. and the families.
Senator Lewis admired all the families for their courage and resilience. The advocacy of this group has made an impact on the legislators efforts to support housing families, homelessness prevention and affordable housing.
“Ninety percent of the calls to my office, since elected in January, are about families and people seeking housing”, stated Representative Ultrino. “The are difficult calls to get, especially knowing that there is a 6-7year waiting list in Malden” he continued. ” I always call HFI first for help”.
Representative Christine Barber of Medford and Somerville came to the dinner. As a new representative, she’s happy to be working with HFI. She conversed with many of the families. She was pleased that she was able to help get money in the legislation for HFI and rental vouchers.
All the legislators agreed that it was a pleasure to work with Housing Families, Inc. They said they will continue to do all that they can to support them.
One fairly new member of the once homeless families is Susan. She has been with HFI for one-and-a-half months. She had just successfully finished rehabilitation and was getting custody of her seven-year-old daughter back. She had no place to go and was on a list of homeless families. Within two weeks, Susan was given a place to live with her daughter in a congregate shelter. There’s much support where she lives. Her daughter is happy with school and their new home. Susan stated that without Housing Families, Inc. she doesn’t know where she would be nor if she would be with her daughter.
Also at the potluck dinner were two volunteers, Amanda Sullivan and Amanda Strawhacker. These young women were busy keeping the children busy with crafts and games. They have been volunteering with the children for about a year. They meet with the children at least once a month. Sometimes they help with homework or play games. During the summer they brought in some robotic items from their jobs, to let the children learn about such science. The parents are grateful for the volunteers, especially when they help so that the parents can attend advocacy meetings to help themselves and others.
The dinner was enjoyed as much by the families and staff, as it was by the legislators. It gave everyone a chance to just relax and talk with each other. —Karen Lynch