Recap: May Community Meeting (Gentrification & Displacement)

Gentrification & Displacement

Big shout-out to everyone who came and helped fill up the room this month for our Community Meeting talking about gentrification, displacement, and the work being done in response.

Presentations and discussion with local organizers/advocates:

City Life/Vida Urbana
clvu.org

Boston Tenant Coalition
bostontenant.org

Chinese Progressive Association
cpaboston.org

Homes for Families considered it important to host a discussion around gentrification & displacement because of how related the topics are to the issues of housing and homelessness. These issues matter for the families that we serve and partner with; they affect families at the front and back door of shelter; and they affect families with and without subsidies.

Themes & ideas that came to light in the discussion:

  • On anti-displacement organizing:
    • Protecting families from displacement impacts the larger community and it is the moral thing to do.
    • Informing tenants of legal rights is important, but often legal rights are not enough.
    • Being there at the right moment can mean saving somebody’s home.
      • So many people in so many communities are facing the same thing:
        “Because we don’t speak, they get away with it.”

    • City Life/Vida Urbana shared examples of successful organizing to keep people in their homes and their communities in the face of gentrification/displacement pressures.
  • Rent regulation was a recurring theme:
    • With such widespread recognition of the housing affordability crisis, why is there no serious discussion of rent regulation?
  • People spoke on the importance of uniting people around the commonalities that exist between people’s different situations.
  • Incremental policies/policy changes at the City of Boston level, and the state, are being advocated for to minimize the impact of gentrification and displacement
    • The City’s Office of Housing Stability
    • Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)
    • Short-term rental regulations (e.g. Air BnB, happening at City & State levels)
    • Jim Brooks Stabilization Act
  • Emphasizing community/consumer leadership and involvement in policy initiatives, such as small group discussions as public testimony around AFFH.
  • Local policy action can influence/put pressure on other localities and the state to take similar actions.
  • “[Anti-displacement] isn’t about concentrating poverty — it’s about building community.”

 

Questions? Comments? Let us know on twitter, facebook, or email us at iwhitney@homesforfamilies.org

 

REMINDER——-

CHANGE OF LOCATION: The June meeting with DCF will be at ABCD, Cass Room, 3rd Floor, 178 Tremont St.

 

Authored by I.W., May 10th, 2018

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Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 5, Housing & Homelessness History

“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Stay tuned every Monday in April at 10am for a new (coffee break) installment of this blog series!

Housing & Homelessness History

Important points from the survey results (page numbers correspond to the full report):

PSDIP_part5-inline.png

We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to address trends in housing and homelessness history for families experiencing homelessness? The HFF Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

Where do we need to focus our attention to prevent homelessness and better understand multi-generational cycles?

  • Focus on families that are struggling with domestic violence (DV).
  • Improve access to the necessities for housing stability and economic stability (affordable housing; access to jobs; access to child care; education, etc.). 
  • Effective and sustained stabilization services are essential to prevent homelessness, as well as to prevent multi-generational cycles of housing instability and homelessness. This should include supports for emotional and medical stability.
  • Stabilization, stabilization, stabilization!

 

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This post authored by I.W. & N.M.

Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 4, Demographics

“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Stay tuned every Monday in April at 10am for a new (coffee break) installment of this blog series!

Demographics

Important points from the survey results (page numbers correspond to the full report):

PSDIP_part4

We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to recognize and address the needs of families who identify as LGBT? The HFF Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

Are we doing enough to support the LGBT population?

  • As a community, there is not enough being done to support the LGBT population of families experiencing homelessness. 
  • There is a lack of understanding in what needs to be done to better support LGBT families, and the compounded challenges they may face.
  • More training around supporting LGBT families and removing judgement are important steps in the right direction.

 

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This post authored by I.W. & N.M.

Recap: April Community Meeting (w/DTA)

Families, EA providers, and community members, and staff from the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) came together last week  to discuss potential changes to TAFDC. 

The increased asset limit (to $5,000) was the only change to TAFDC included in the House Ways and Means FY19 budget proposal. 

Amendments have been filed for other proposed changes, see a full analysis by MLRI here (updated April 12th). 

In March DTA’s Commissioner McCue delivered his FY19 budget testimony. 

John Stella, Director of Economic Assistance & Megan Nicholls, Assistant Director of Family Assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance presented proposed changes to TAFDC, and engaged in an in depth Q&A with more than 25 community members who attended.

After DTA’s presentation and Q&A, we heard comments and concerns around the potential changes to TAFDC and the work of DTA more broadly. Here are some of the points that were made:

  • Communication remains a challenge and barrier – program participants are not able to access information specific to their case, and the issue of accessibility is a concern for many in discussions around new/modified programs.
  • As of yet families have not vetted TAFDC proposals – DTA plans to incorporate this, but it is not clear to what extent family input will affect these proposed changes or future proposals.
  • Early and consistent communication with DHCD on proposed changes is important, for example adjusting DHCD program requirements to keep them in line with improved asset limits.
  • The relationship between the cost to families (time and resources) and administrative costs – limiting burdensome verification measures when implementing new or modified policies may reduce these costs both for families and for DTA.
  • Targeting reforms to more work-ready, non-exempt families is important. However, it is vital that changes are made to reflect the needs of all families.
  • Learn to Earn: there are diverse stakeholders in different fields who could inform, assess, and anticipate issues prior to changes being made; these stakeholders should be brought to the table early to take advantage of their expertise.
  • Reiterated support for the proposed asset limit increase to $5,000 (included in HWM) as a step in the right direction.

join-the-conversation

 

Join us for the next Community Meeting on May 9th, 11am to 1pm in the first floor conference room at 14 Beacon Street, Boston MA— we will be discussing gentrification/displacement in the context of stabilization for families leaving shelter.

Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 3, Community Connections

“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Stay tuned every Monday in April at 10am for a new (coffee break) installment of this blog series!

Community Connections

Important points from the survey results (page numbers correspond to the full report):

  • Families in congregate shelter were less likely to feel shelter staff helped them become aware of community resources (p. 18)

 

PSDIP_Comm-Connect.png

We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to support and facilitate community connections for families experiencing homelessness? The HFF Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

How can organizations support well-connected relationships between families and community resources?

  • Keep in contact with families.
  • Maintain awareness of existing, new, and changing community resources and share this information with families.
  • Actively work to engage families in a community that may not be their own, recognizing and supporting the challenges that come with being in a neighborhood other than one’s own. 
  • Understanding families’ needs on a personal level and maintaining contact for as long as necessary to support community connections. 

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This post authored by I.W. & N.M.

Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 2, Children

“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Stay tuned every Monday in April at 10am for a new (coffee break) installment of this blog series!

Children

Important points from the survey results (page numbers correspond to the full report):

  • 1 in 4 families surveyed indicated that they had additional children not with them in shelter (p. 10)
  • Nearly a third of families with school-aged children switched schools at least once (p. 16)

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We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to address children’s needs and support the whole family while experiencing homelessness? The HFF Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

How can we better support family re-unification and serving the needs of the whole family?

  • Connect families with the resources they need, working to thoroughly identify needs across the whole family.
  • Increase support teams who will listen to the needs of families and help prepare families for re-unification.
  • Provide stabilization and support systems that work for the whole family.

How can we better address issues related to children switching schools?

  • Having focus groups with parents to further explore the issue.
  • Minimize the need for switching schools (placing families nearby children’s prior schools, providing transportation, etc.)
  • Ensure proper support systems that recognize the effects that switching schools may have on the whole family.

Where can we do better by children and families by making needed supports for children truly accessible, while keeping families intact?

  • More personalized understanding of a family’s whole situation, deeper than what shows up “on paper.”
  • Ensure that when families identify needs, connections are made toward the proper resources. 
  • Support families’ needs early on, before separation occurs. 

 

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This post authored by I.W. & N.M.

Putting Survey Data Into Practice: Part 1 Health and Wellness

“If the providers understand the family’s perspective on things, they
are better able to help, are more sympathetic, and the family’s needs
can be better met.” 

— Homes for Families Consumer Advocacy Team (CAT) Member, 2017

In September of 2017, HFF released a full report on Family Experiences of Homelessness in Massachusetts. We are continuing to explore and build off of the survey data used in that report, and one way we are doing this is with this blog series, a continuation of the “Putting Survey Data Into Practice” document released in January. The series incorporates the perspectives of families and providers in relation to key data points, and works towards solutions for families and family-centered care.

Health & Wellness

Important points from the survey results:

  • Mental health is captured as a contributing cause of homelessness
  • A high percentage of parents reported their health and stress got worse after entering shelter.

Slide 8_REFACT

We wanted to hear from families! What would be some of the best approaches to address families’ health and wellness needs while experiencing homelessness? The HFF  Consumer Advocacy Team (CATs) shared their reflections, summarized here:

How can programs move toward addressing clinical needs?

  • Assessments—identify mental health needs and provide early support before homelessness, or challenges following homelessness, occur.
  • Front-door assessments are an opportunity to identify whether or not mental health may have been a contributing cause to a family’s displacement, and providing supports early on if they are necessary. 
  • Provide childcare to families—some are unable to receive proper care without it.

How can serving mental and emotional health needs be built into practice?

  • Recognize the different practical needs that families face compared to individuals—families should not have to choose between their health and their children. 
  • Trauma-informed care, a better understanding of the health issues associated with families being displaced; providers should have easy access to training, resources, and connections to health centers. 

How can we create a system that allows for greater flexibility and more specialization of services?

  • Find support early on, and do so through intake assessments to avoid making assumptions about a family’s specific needs. 
  • Staff training in specialty areas that address the different challenges families may face (domestic violence, substance abuse, etc.). 

This post is authored by I.W. & N.M.