Once again Homes for Families & partners rocked the house in the name of MRVP (Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program). The spirit of advocacy filled the air and halls of the Massachusetts State House as families, providers, and advocates raised awareness and demanded housing.
Representation from across the state from more than 200 folks with a shared message made MRVP Cookie Day an event that unified everyone who was participating. More than 100 attendees hand-delivered messages to their legislators for increased funding for MRVP. This day of action is one that has a history of significant positive impact and could potentially, once again, have an important impact on this year’s state budget by way of increased investments to MRVP.
Chairman Honan and Chairman Boncore, co-chairs of the Joint Committee on Housing and co-sponsors of Cookie Day, began the day by emphasizing the importance of MRVP and the power of families’ stories for affecting change.
“There’s no one here who knows the significance of MRVP more than the families who use it.”
“There’s nothing that means more to me than the individual stories of families who have been helped by MRVP.”
We were joined by Commissioner Bharel from the Department of Public Health, who spoke about the relationship between housing and health, making a clear case for stable housing as the foundation to healthy communities families and children.
“The power of place, where we access what we need for how we live, matters so much.”
-Commissioner Bharel, MD, MPH
We heard from families who spoke to both the need for housing and the overwhelmingly positive impact that being housed provides.
The first family shared a powerful picture of what it means to be a survivor of domestic violence, trying to run with absolutely no where to go because housing is inaccessible and unaffordable, what that instability has done to her family and how an MRVP voucher could move her and her children from a place of trauma and devastation to a place of safety, security, and wellness.
“As for me I don’t know what I’m going to do…getting completely housing stable or becoming homeless again mean two drastically different things for my family. I cannot handle the thought of the three of us bouncing around or being in shelter.”
The second family was an inspiration to us all as she shared her message of hope after housing. Meshell’s recent move into permanent housing meant that her son, who suffers from a list of chronic conditions, finally has a space that is customized to his health needs and the type of round-the-clock care that he needs. In her update Meshell shared that, as a result of her new living conditions, her son is showing major improvements to his development. Meshell also shared how now that she is housed, she will be able to return to school in the fall to pursue a psychology degree.
“I can actually set aside time to work on myself. My main areas of focus now that housing is all set are education, financial stability, and self care…but, I also feel that it is really important to recognize that thousands of families have been shut out of this same kind of opportunity because they cannot access a housing subsidy.”
The Big Cookie, which Homes for Families has given for nearly a decade with the purpose of recognizing partners & elected officials who have shown themselves to be champions in their commitment to ending family homelessness, was awarded to Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay for her efforts and gains in the work to end family homelessness across the state.
A big thank you to everyone who attended Cookie Day, including:
More than 50 parents and children
More than 80 shelter provider staff
14 State Senators and Reps or their staff
Rep. Kevin Honan
Sen. Joe Boncore
Commissioner Monica Bharel, MD, MPH
Outgoing Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay
Resource fair contributors:
Children’s Health Watch / Witness to Hunger
Jane Doe Inc.