Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Dave McMahon- Co- executive director, Dismas House

 Dave McMahon is the co- executive director of Dismas House, a program that provides temporary housing and support services to those released from incarceration. He has seen first hand how nearly impossible it is for people to work to improve their lives when they have no home.  Often, when former prisoners are released from prison without a home or the means to secure one, they fall into the cycle of chronic homelessness. 

 

When Dave heard that other human service providers in Worcester were coming together to create an initiative to attack the root causes of homelessness he was eager to join and became part of the Home Again Steering Committee- the core team that led the project in its early stages. "Home Again represents two years of enormous effort of people from all walks in our communities getting together to create opportunities for those in desperate need of help," says Dave.

 

As part of the team that studied successful programs to end homelessness in other communities, Dave believes that the "housing first" approach being used by Home Again is a compassionate and proven way to get people off of the streets.  While recognizing the importance of temporary shelters, Dave also sees the need for innovative approaches to ending homelessness. "Home Again represents a sea-change in how we conceive of the homeless," says Dave.  "Rather than simply warehousing people in temporary shelters, we are providing them with a significantly better standard of living through the dignity of having a home."

 

Dave is confident that Worcester can join other communities in coming together to end homelessness saying, "Homelessness is a plague that has aroused anger and passion and confounded policymakers for decades in Central Massachusetts. But other communities have ended homelessness through housing first and we can do it too with our own 'Worcester footprint' on the issue."

 

Dave does realize that there are a number of stereotypes to overcome when taking on chronic homelessness saying, "We need to counteract the stereotypes by constantly reminding the public of the individual people involved in this tragedy."

 

Looking forward, Dave says the successes of Home Again will be measured in terms of the community's moral responsibility.  "Home Again means hope for the disenfranchised and ignored and dignity for people stripped of their self worth.  Home Again promises the basic human right of housing to people in need."

 

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