Tuesday, March, 25, 2014 -- Governor Deval Patrick today announced more than $25 million in funding to create over 335 new units of supportive housing for veterans, homeless and very low income households across the Commonwealth. The Governor also announced that, with these units, the Patrick Administration has reached its goal of creating 1,000 units of permanent, supportive housing in the Commonwealth a year early. Governor Patrick made these announcements during a visit to the future site of the Haverhill Veterans' Housing Project.
"Government's role is to help people help themselves, and I am extremely pleased that we have reached our ambitious housing goal early, ensuring that more of our families have the resources to get back on their feet," said Governor Patrick. "Helping our most vulnerable families transition into stable housing is vital to supporting our economy and creating a stronger Commonwealth for the next generation."
In December 2012, Governor Patrick announced a goal of creating 1,000 new units of supportive housing across the Commonwealth by December 2015. To reach this goal, 18 state agencies signed a memorandum of understanding partnering to improve existing processes, make recommendations for new, collaborative efforts and develop a long-range action plan to meet the need for supportive housing among the Commonwealth's residents. Supportive housing helps individuals and families that are homeless or facing homelessness, institutionalized or at-risk of institutionalization, people with disabilities and the elderly. Additionally, the agencies continue to assess the extent of public cost-savings generated as a result of providing permanent supportive housing and will recommend strategic reinvestments.
In addition to a providing housing for families, supportive housing, which is operated in conjunction with a network of non-profit agencies across the Commonwealth, can include services such as childcare, access to job training, mental-health care and other opportunities that give participants a hand up towards stability and success.
"This supportive housing program will provide a clear pathway for participants from homelessness and emergency shelters towards stabilization and growth in permanently affordable housing," said Aaron Gornstein, Undersecretary for the Department of Housing and Community Development.
"This investment in supportive housing is just another example of why Massachusetts leads the nation the nation in caring for and serving our veterans," said Department of Veterans' Services Secretary Coleman Nee. "Under the leadership of the Governor and working across several agencies, the Patrick Administration has already reached its goal of creating 250 units of veterans specific housing. This is a wonderful achievement and a critical component of our campaign to end veterans homelessness by 2015."
In March 2012, Governor Patrick signed "An Act Relative to Community Housing and Services," which increases coordination and efficiency across government agencies by requiring these agencies to commit to working together through a legally-binding memorandum of understanding to create a demonstration program resulting in up to 1,000 new permanent supportive housing units, and requires administrative action to promote supportive housing and to establish benchmarks to assess progress.
"In my role on the Armed Services Committee, I have seen firsthand the challenges our service members and their families face here on the homefront, particularly as they transition from active duty to veteran status," said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. "Funding such as this, paired with partnerships with quality organizations, bring much needed housing resources and support to veterans and to others who need it most in the Third District and across Massachusetts."
"This award from the Housing Preservation Supportive Trust Fund will allow Coalition for a Better Acre in association with Veterans Northeast Outreach Center to build 27 units of much needed housing for veterans and their families and will be an important contribution to increasing the affordable housing stock for veterans in our community," said Senator Kathleen O'Connor Ives.
"I want to thank Governor Patrick and the Legislature for this aggressive approach in creating supportive housing," said Representative Linda Dean Campbell. "This provides that important first step for those who have fallen on hard times to become contributing members of their communities."
"Homelessness among our veteran population is a serious problem and that's why it is so important that we ensure that they are provided with the opportunity and access to affordable and permanent housing," said Representative Brian Dempsey. "I am pleased that the Governor has recognized the strong partnership being developed between Coalition for Better Acre and Veterans Northeast Outreach Center in selecting to support their critical housing initiative."
"The creation of permanent supportive housing is key to addressing homelessness," said Representative Kevin Honan, House Chairman of the Joint Committee on Housing. "I applaud the Governor's leadership in providing funding for hundreds of new units of supportive housing for our veterans, who face challenging issues as they return home, as well as homeless and low-income individuals and families."
Today, Governor Patrick also awarded 208 project-based vouchers from the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP). The vouchers are available to owners of existing, affordable rental properties, who provide services or partner with an agency that has experience with successfully stabilizing homeless or very low-income households.
The MRVP vouchers allow homeless families to move into existing housing developments with long-term affordability restrictions. The non-profit agencies that own the properties provide participating families with comprehensive supportive service programs to help ensure that they do not fall back into the cycle of homelessness and emergency shelter, while helping them move toward stability and self-sufficiency. Funds for supportive services in the amount of $2,500 per unit will be used to provide a wide array of services, including job search and training, financial literacy and planning, self-sufficiency training and coaching, counseling, parenting, early education and childcare, mental health and addiction treatment, adult education, and GED and skills training.
"Governor Patrick, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Aaron Gornstein, and the Commonwealth as a whole were very forward-thinking in setting the goal to create 1,000 units of supportive housing," said Roger Herzog, executive director of the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation (CEDAC) and the chair of the interagency working group that supported the initiative. "The supportive housing will help seniors, veterans, homeless individuals and families, and persons with disabilities, among others, all of whom will benefit from the services connected with this affordable housing. Eighteen state agencies have been working together to coordinate efforts and today's announcement reflects the creative thinking that has taken place across these agencies. Massachusetts has always been a leader in developing innovative strategies around affordable housing, and this is yet another example of it. We applaud the leadership of Governor Patrick, Undersecretary Gornstein, and agency leaders who have worked hard to reach this goal ahead of schedule."
The Patrick Administration continues to focus its efforts and resources on homelessness prevention and permanent housing to reduce the number of families living in hotels and at the same time to maintain one of the strongest safety nets in the country.