On Solid Ground

solid groundNew Report Released-On Solid Ground: Building Opportunity, Preventing Homelessness

The On Solid Ground coalition today released its first report on family homelessness. The report, On Solid Ground: Building Opportunity, Preventing Homelessness, documents the impact of the Commonwealth’s housing shortage on families with extremely low incomes, and outlines the critical components of a preventative approach to family homelessness.

The report makes the following recommendations to increase stability and reduce family homelessness:

  • Systems Change: Appoint a Special Secretary to build a coordinated service delivery system across governmental departments. The coordinated system will support homelessness prevention, minimize cliff effects, and provide integrated case management services.
  • Housing: Expand the affordable housing stock and rental assistance vouchers for extremely low-income households; preserve existing privately and publicly subsidized homes; and improve public housing.
  • Supportive Services: Invest in services that provide a path to increased incomes and economic mobility for extremely low-income families.
  • Tracking Progress: Collect and analyze data, and track progress – at state agencies and their nonprofit partners – toward an agreed upon set of goals related to housing stability and economic mobility.

On Solid Ground is a cross-sector group of more than 30 partners committed to a research-based approach to increasing housing stability and economic mobility. In preparing this report, On Solid Ground partners looked at factors that contribute to family instability, the gaps in programs meant to serve families with low incomes, the role of federal and state rental subsidy programs, and the interconnectedness of rental assistance, childcare, and employment assistance in increasing family incomes. The paper also looks at how stagnant wages, rising numbers of low wage jobs, and declining supports leave more than 60,000 families living in unstable housing situations and at risk of homelessness. The report demonstrates ways in which the Commonwealth’s service delivery system unintentionally limits the ability of families to increase their incomes and economic mobility, keeping people in poverty.

“If we continue to focus only on reducing shelter numbers, family homelessness will continue to rise,” said Rachel Heller, director of public policy at Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. “Shifting our focus to housing stability and economic mobility will result in better outcomes for children, families, and communities,”

“All I needed to save my family from the trauma of homelessness was enough financial help for a deposit on an apartment and to retain my CNA license,” said Christina [last name withheld], a homeless mother and survivor of domestic violence.  “With a housing subsidy to offset some of the high cost of rent I could have transitioned into an apartment. What I needed was nowhere near as costly as the alternative; just a little bit to keep me from falling off the cliff. Instead we lost it all.”

“Housing insecurity has a detrimental impact on the health and educational prospects for young children,” said Marie St. Fleur, president and CEO, Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children. “Low wages are one indicator of the structural trends that perpetuate these inequities. We need greater systemically aligned solutions to tackle the root of the problem and On Solid Ground begins to do just that.”

“Together, we can do more to reduce and prevent homelessness than any one person or organization can do alone,” said Michael K. Durkin, president and chief executive officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.  “Too many families are one financial disaster away from homelessness. Ensuring they have access to services that can help them increase their savings, build net worth and get better jobs will not only increase their household’s financial stability, but will strengthen the economic stability of communities across our Commonwealth.”

Visit www.chapa.org/OnSolidGround for the full report. To view research that informed the paper, visit: http://www.umb.edu/csp/publications/reports

Information provided by Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association, CHAPA’s mission is to encourage the production and preservation of housing that is affordable to low and moderate income families and individuals and to foster diverse and sustainable communities through planning and community development.  For more information, click here.

The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Take a Bite out of Homelessness!

JerseyThe Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Attend the Worcester Sharks Game on Saturday, December 13!

10. Take a BITE out of Homelessness! All proceeds from ticket sales, raffles and the jersey auction will benefit RCAP Solutions local homelessness prevention programs!

9. Catch the Sharks wearing “throwback” IceCats jerseys from 1994!

8. Celebrate 20 years of Hockey in the City of Worcester!

7. Freebies! Attendees will receive a Worcester Hockey Mascot Poster featuring FINZ and Scratch!

6. Former IceCats players will sign autographs with FINZ and Scratch during the intermissions!

5. Tickets purchased through RCAP are great seats and discounted over 50%

4. Create memories! This is a great (and low cost) family night out!

3. All game worn jerseys will be auctioned/raffled off, benefiting RCAP Solutions!

2. Sharks Feeding Frenzy! Specialty Jersey Games have a lot of energy – players (and fans) go wild!

1. See President & CEO Karen Koller drop the puck!

Have a fun night out and support local families at the same time!

What else are you doing on 12.13.14???

Gold Level Discounted Tickets just $12 Each (Face Value of $20)!

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Event Includes:
• Sharks vs. Monarchs game
• Game Worn Jersey Auction (live, silent & raffle)
• 50/50 Raffle
• Chuck A Puck Contest
• Autographs, free posters, mascots and much more

Contact Maegen McCaffrey, 978-630-6714, email: mmccaffrey@rcapsolutions.org.

Ticket sales and auction proceeds will benefit RCAP Solutions Client Services Programs, serving over four thousand Worcester county residents and families each year, providing affordable housing, homelessness prevention, home rehabilitation, domestic violence victim support, foreclosure prevention and financial literacy.

Gone to the Birds Gala

On September 18, 2014, RCAP Solutions Celebrated its 45th Anniversary by going to the birds! Over 250 attendees, made up of artists, business professionals, RCAP Solutions supporters and Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce members participated in a birdhouse auction, hosted by Skinner Auctions. Over 100 works of art were auctioned, raising over $16,000. 100% of the proceeds will support housing and homelessness prevention programs for Worcester County families.

We thank the many generous sponsors, talented artists, and the staff and volunteers who donated their time and talents and helped to make this event a great success!

Photos by Andrea Seward, Habakkuk Media Services.

 

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Facts about Homelessness

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Nationally:

  • There are 610,042 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
  • Of that number, 222,197 are people in families, and 387,845 are individuals.
  • About 18 percent of the homeless population – 109,132 – are considered chronically homeless.
  • About 9 percent of homeless adults- 57,849 – are veterans.

 

Statewide:

  • In a recent survey of a single night in Massachusetts in 2013, 19,029 people were homeless, including 7,259 children and 1,253 veterans.
  • Massachusetts is the 7th most expensive state to live in.
  • 44,000 school children in the state do not have a place to live.
  • There has been a 40% increase in homeless individuals statewide between 2011 and 2012.
  • Of the MA residents that receive rental housing support, 47% have children and 16% are elderly. 71% were employed or recently employed.
  • 134,304 renter households in Massachusetts pay more than half their monthly income for housing costs. This is a 22% increase since the 2008 recession hit.
  • There are 2,000 families in motels across the state.

 

Locally:

  • In Worcester, homelessness is rising, an increase of 20% since 2012.
  • In Worcester, 2000 families are in emergency shelters and 145 Worcester veterans are homeless, half of them are victims of domestic violence.
  • 56% of Worcester renters are unable to afford $966 average monthly rent for 2 bedroom apt.
  • RCAP is currently servicing 115 homeless families that are sheltered in hotels including over 250 children.
  • Since 2011, RCAP Solutions has helped 775 families with housing stabilization.
  • RCAP Solutions has distributed over $6,000,000 in stabilization funds since 2011.

100% of funds received from the Gone to the Birds Gala on Thursday, September 18, will support our homelessness prevention programs.

One Month Till We’re Gone to the Birds!

Today marks ONE MONTH until the Gone to the Birds Gala! And the Birdhouse Auction items keep rolling in…As of today, we have 117 items in house. We hope you are as excited as we are, it should be a fantastic event! Don’t wait, purchase your tickets today! http://www.rcapsolutions.org/register/

The Stone Birdhouse

Now that we are counting down these last few weeks until the Gone to the Birds Gala, we will highlight several birdhouses and works of art per day, so you can preview all of the amazing pieces that will be featured in the Birdhouse Auction in support of Homelessness Prevention!

“The Stone Birdhouse” created by Christopher Camosse, General Manager of Camosse Masonry Supply in Worcester. This unique (and heavy!) work of art was created using reclaimed stone and brick to create a birdhouse that will last a lifetime.