Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Walter Spencer- Executive director, Jeremiah's Inn

 Walter Spencer, the executive director of Jeremiah's Inn, which has provided services to homeless men for over 25 years, was asked to join a group of service providers to come up with a plan to end chronic homelessness in Worcester that could be submitted to the Health Foundation of Central MA for funding. 

The proposal was successful and the group, including Walter, became the Home Again Steering Committee that initiated the program operating in Worcester today.  "As the director of Jeremiah's Inn, and more importantly as a person of faith, I could not ignore an opportunity to assist some of our most vulnerable brothers and sisters," says Walter.


Being a part of Home Again is very meaningful to Walter who says that the name of the program captures the spirit and idea on which the program is built.  "The name 'Home Again' signifies the goal of the program, which is to develop a true sense of home in the participants because home is a place of comfort, safety, and peace where people are appreciated and nurtured and where they can return to stability."


The Home Again program was created with the cooperative input from a broad cross section of the Worcester community.  For Walter, one of the best outcomes of this process was that service providers from across the city developed better relationships with one another. "We have come to a better understanding of the services each organization offers, which helps us work better together to strengthen the safety net for individuals experiencing homelessness."


The "housing first" model is fast becoming the preferred solution to end homelessness among service providers, the City of Worcester, and the state because it has proven to be successful in other communities.  "It is a community response to a community problem," says Walter of its success.  "It also demonstrates that this community will not tolerate having fellow human beings live on the street.  Instead of turning our backs, we are facing the issue of chronic homelessness head on."


Walter believes that the community should look at homelessness in a more personal way to understand the need for programs like Home Again. "We need to remember that homeless people are the same as you and me.  We need to take a step back and ask ourselves: 'If I were homeless how would I want to be treated?'"