The Valley Community Development Corporation is proposing to develop 28 supportive studio units of affordable housing in Amherst. Unfortunately, some residents of the neighborhood are organizing intensely in opposition. Below is the text of a letter the Network sent to the Amherst Town Council, FYI.
The Town of Amherst is hosting a COMMUNITY FORUM: Monday, June 24, 6 pm Town Hall, Amherst. This will be an open discussion. The Amherst Affordable Housing Coalition encourages all to attend: “Even if you do not plan to speak, your presence alone will be important. Wear your “I Support Affordable Housing’ button.”
If your organization would like to weigh in with positive neighborhood experiences around affordable housing developments, please do so! Email towncouncil@Amherstma.gov (this email address reaches the entire council).
The Network’s letter in support:
Dear Amherst Town Council:
I am writing on behalf of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness (“Network”) in support of the Valley CDC’s proposal to develop 28 supportive studio apartment units at 132 Northampton Road.
The Network, which includes hundreds of partners from every sector across the four Western Counties, creates collaborative solutions to prevent and end homelessness through a Housing First approach. Our Leadership Council reflects the broad-based support of the Network’s mission.
As I’m sure you are aware, Massachusetts faces a significant affordable housing crisis, and Amherst is no exception. Based on a recently released report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, we know that for every 100 extremely low income households in Massachusetts there are only 48.6 units available. In Amherst the gap is even larger, with only 42 units available for every 100 extremely low income individuals.
We are extremely fortunate to have Valley CDC in our community, leading the way in the local response to this affordable housing crisis. This particular proposal is extremely sound, reflecting evidence-based best practices: well-designed housing units with available support services in a location that is accessible to public transportation and employment. It also provides affordable housing for those individuals earning between approximately $25,000-$49,000/year, providing homes for those with a mix of incomes and experiences.
What an exciting opportunity! Data from across the region and the country tells us these developments work. While we can have compassion for the fear of change, even for the fear of difference, it is our collective duty to push forward with housing policy that brings us closer to the healthy communities we all seek and reflects the values of inclusivity and opportunity that are true to the Amherst community.
The Network and its many partners stand at the ready to assist in making this development a success for residents and neighbors alike. Please let me know how we can help. Thanks so much for your leadership and commitment.
Yesterday, on June 10, 2019, close to 200 people gathered at Holyoke Community College for the Network’s 3rd annual Housing/Homelessness Resource Fair. Over 75 providers from across the four Western counties, along with state agencies, offered information and over 100 other providers arrived to collect it.
The morning kicked off with a brief program welcoming over a dozen state legislators and mayoral offices. HCC President Christina Royal provided the first welcome, then Representative Aaron Vega of Holyoke, then MA Department of Housing and Community Development Assistant Undersecretary Jane Banks and finally Network Director Pamela Schwartz introduced each legislator.
Pictured from left to right in the photo below: Rep. Aaron Vega, Rep. Lindsay Sabadosa, Rep. Jose Tosado, Rep. Dan Carey (second row), Senator Anne Gobi, HCC President Christina Royal (second row), Rep. Carlos Gonzalez, Senator Jo Comerford, Rep. Natalie Blais and Rep. Mindy Domb, along with aides from the offices of Rep. Paul Mark (Adrienne Nunez), Senator Adam Hinds (Jon Gould, not pictured) and Senator Jim Welch ( Jennifer Hayes, not pictured).
We thanked our legislative delegation for their tremendous commitment to policies and funding priorities that will prevent and end homelessness. We demonstrated the impact of those funding priorities with some of the outcomes of the region’s work projected here.
We also called out the Network’s commitment to address racial inequity in ending homelessness, noting the 3-part training series (led by national trainer Marc Dones) that has just come to a close. We know that with the significant over-representation of African-American and Latinx populations among people experiencing homelessness in our region (and across the nation), we have serious transformational system work to do and we are underway. This commitment of time, energy and resources to this challenge will continue next year and beyond.
Thanks to an incredible Network of committed people and organizations for an energizing and resource-filled morning. Onward we go!
An invitation from Mass. Department of Public Health: Are you working on racial justice to help improve health equity in your community? Is your organization concerned about how issues like poor housing or educational opportunities are impacting the health of your family and friends? We want to hear from you!
Western Region Meeting: Tuesday, June 11 5 pm – 7:30 pm Smith College Conference Center 49 College Lane Northampton, MA 01060
Massachusetts Community Health Initiative Funds Regional Engagement Sessions Join staff from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Health Resources in Action and Advisory Committee members for an overview of two exciting new Massachusetts funds focused on community health. These funds are the Statewide Community Health Initiative (CHI) Fund and The Healthy Aging Fund.
By attending one of the sessions, you have the opportunity to: • Learn about the funds’ history, rationale, investment process, and timeline • Network with others in your community and find potential collaboration partners to strengthen your work • Identify and contribute ideas for community-based initiatives that align with upcoming funding opportunities
Register today to reserve your spot, request accommodations and/or childcare, and receive additional information. Light refreshments will be provided. Questions? Contact StatewideCHIFund@hria.org or HealthyAgingFund@hria.org For Additional Information: hria.org/projects/massachusetts-chi-funds/
Over 150 leaders from across the four Western Massachusetts counties came together today to combat homelessness in the region and to learn from a newly released report by the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness.
In a packed room at GreenfieldCommunity College, a dozen state legislators, including the five just elected from the Upper Pioneer Valley, two sheriffs, 7 mayors, 2 town administrators, 8housing authorities, state agency leaders, every community college, career center and major hospital in each county, and over 100 others across every sector showed up to find out what it will take to prevent and end homelessness inWestern Massachusetts.
“Today our region made an extraordinary demonstration of its commitment to end homelessness,” said Pamela Schwartz, Director of the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness. “And today our Network shared some vital tools that will bring us all closer to making thatgoal a reality.”
The report found that since 2012 in
Following the Network evaluation process of the last few months, the Network, in collaboration with the Hampden County and Three County CoC’s, has decided to merge its Individual Services and Veterans Committee meetings with the ongoing CoC meetings in each sub-region. As a result, the next meetings will be as follows:
Tuesday, March 27
1:00 – 1:30 pm (the first part of the by-name list meeting that will end at 2:30 pm)
Friends of the Homeless
755 Worthington Street, Springfield
Monday, April 9
2:00 – 2:30 pm (the last part of the REACH meeting that starts at 1 pm)
DMH/Haskell Building, 2nd floor conference room
1 Prince Street (Village Hill Drive), Northampton
The Network agenda will include items such as state budget and policy updates, emergency shelter needs and other regional issues that arise.
With input from the Three County CoC and Hampden County CoC Veterans by-name list meetings, it was decided that the goal of regional exchange could be most efficiently accomplished by adding Network business to the monthly Hampden County CoC Veterans meeting. There is already overlap between the two CoCs at this meeting so Three County CoC decided it was sufficient to have this Network addition to just the Hampden County meeting (as opposed to the 3 County veterans meeting as well).
This meeting will take place on the first Wednesday of the month, from 2:00-2:30 pm, with the remainder of the by-name list meeting to follow from 2:30-3:30 pm.
The Committee will meet next on:
Wednesday, April 4
2:00 – 2:30 pm
Friends of the Homeless
755 Worthington Street, Springfield
The Network agenda will include items such as state budget and policy updates, Statewide Veterans Commission updates, and other regional items.
Network partners also understand this more limited meeting time suggests that special meetings will be called when there are specific topics to address. Above all, this Network collaboration is continually an evolving process that will be adapted based on what best serves the goal of productive work towards ending homelessness in Western Massachusetts.
Northampton Lodging occupied an awkward place in town. Positioned just past Hampton Court, it marked the transition from the brightly lit storefronts, galleries, and restaurants of Main and upper Pleasant Streets to the less pedestrian friendly stretch of road that connects the city to the highway.
Initially constructed in 1967 as a dormitory for the now-defunct Northampton Commercial College, in recent decades, the property offered 58 single-room rentals with common kitchens and baths.
In the fall of 2016, the building was demolished and the newly constructed, yellow brick, Live 155 has risen in its place.
For the past two years, Cassandra Holden has been interviewing former residents of the Lodging and members of the community about what it was like to live in and/or interact with that place. The stories of camaraderie and mutual support stand in stark contrast to those found in the police blotter.
Photographer Paul Shoul got to know many of the former residents and captured thoughtful portraits of them just before they were relocated.
The exhibition, which will run from March 9th – June 10th, traces the waning years of boarding house living in Northampton and raises questions about how we enfold those at the edges of our community.
On February 12, the Network hosted a region-wide meeting to gain input on the Network’s future course. The meeting was facilitated by the consultant Joyce Tavon. Attached for your information are the Powerpoint she produced for the meeting and the Summary Notes that were provided after the meeting. Thank you!