Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Community Healthlink Announces First Home Again Site






Building to be named in honor of Lt. Tommy Spencer,

Worcester firefighter who lost life in 1999 warehouse blaze


WORCESTER, MA- Community Healthlink announced today the first program site for the Home Again initiative to address adult chronic homelessness, an Elm Street building, that will be named the Lt. Tommy Spencer House. 


Lt. Spencer and five other firefighters lost their lives on December 3, 1999 in the warehouse blaze, when two homeless people who were staying in the abandoned warehouse, accidentally knocked over a candle.   His son, Worcester resident Patrick Spencer, is actively involved in developing Home Again as a member of its Advisory Council.  Patrick Spencer will lead the team of local contractors and volunteers who will be renovating the building. 


Based on the "housing first" model, which the City Manager's Task Force on Homelessness recently identified as the preferred approach to effectively address the problem of homelessness, Home Again is supported by a $587,655 grant from The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts. 


"We are thrilled to have the first home for this program identified and are confident the Home Again initiative will make a real difference, not just in the lives of the 14 individuals who will no longer be homeless, but also in the face of homelessness in our community," said Deborah Ekstrom, CEO of Community Healthlink.  "We are appreciative of the widespread support of individuals and agencies throughout Worcester, and particularly grateful for Pat Spencer"s personal commitment to ending homelessness and his professional support in renovating the property.   It is our honor to name the first Home Again housing site for Lt. Spencer, as we hope it will represent a fitting tribute for his lifework."


Home Again was designed through a collaborative effort of a 31 member Planning Committee that included representatives from the business community, local foundations, healthcare, higher education, the faith community and service providers, as well as Worcester residents and formerly homeless individuals.


Spencer House will become home to 14 people who are currently homeless.  Residents will have access to healthcare services, education programs (including workforce training and daily living skill-building) and ongoing case management.   An on-site resident manager will live in the building, and will have access to program management staff at all hours of the day and night to respond to issues or concerns.  Spencer House residents will be screened to ensure their willingness to pay 30% of their income toward rent and to have a case worker visit them at least once a week. 


The Home Again initiative is a partnership of Community Healthlink, the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance, Dismas House, Henry Lee Willis Community Center, Jeremiah's Inn, and SMOC/People In Peril Shelter.    Community Healthlink is a non-profit provider of services for people struggling with mental illness, substance abuse, and/or homelessness.  It operates a number of housing and treatment programs for people in Worcester and other communities throughout the County.  


Click here to read the Worcester Telegram & Gazette story on Pat Spencer and the new Home Again Site