Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
December 2008

 

Home Again: Only a Home Ends Homelessness
Working With the Community to End Adult Chronic Homelessness in the Greater Worcester Area
Home Again News December 2008
In This Issue
Spencer House dedicated in memory of Worcester firefighter
All Home Again clients accepting services
Home Again clients reside in a range of settings
Donate to Home Again online
The NY Times editorializes in favor of supportive housing
Profile of Major Michael Copeland
About Home Again
Quick Links
Recent news regarding foreclosures, job losses, retirement fund depletions and rising costs of fuel, food and housing have been disheartening.As average people struggle to make ends meet, it becomes easier to understand how the slide into homelessness occurs.Many of the leaders behind the Home Again project work with residents of the greater Worcester area every day to help keep temporary challenges from resulting in homelessness.

At the same time, the Home Again project is making progress in addressing the issue of chronic homelessness.Following our motto - Only a Home Ends Homelessness - we have been successful in placing 11 individuals in housing in and around the city.

Last month, we held a lovely ceremony dedicating the
Lt. Tommy Spencer House clustered site residence to the memory of the Worcester firefighter who selflessly gave his life in the line of duty to save the lives of homeless people in the warehouse fire of 1999.We were happy to be joined by Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien and to have the Spencer family represented by Lt. Spencer's son Patrick.

With the opening of the residence, I want to once again thank the
Home Again Advisory Council for their guidance, the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts for the funding to make the entire Home Again Project possible -including the loan for the purchase of the Spencer House- and the staff at Community Healthlink for their hard work in overseeing renovations to the house and planning for the project.

As supporters of the work we are doing at Home Again, we would also like to make you aware that we are now accepting contributions online.Your generous donation will assist us in helpinghomeless adults take the steps they need to reclaim their lives.

Please click here to visit our donations page.

We are proud of the work we are doing to improve the lives of those affected by chronic homelessness and to provide a program that is raising the quality of life in our communities.We also know there is much more work ahead of us.But we are heartened by the growing support at the city, state, and national level for housing first initiatives like Home Again.Every day, more people are realizing that only a home ends homelessness.


Sincerely,

Brooke Doyle
Project Director
Home Again

Worcester City Officials Join Home Again, Community Healthlink in Dedicating New Residence in Honor of Lt. Tommy Spencer

The Lt. Tommy Spencer House, the first multi-client residence created by Home Again, was dedicated to the memory of Worcester Firefighter Lt. Thomas Spencer during a private ceremony held in October.The name of the house carries particular poignancy: Lt. Spencer was attempting to save the lives of homeless people who started the 1999 fire after seeking shelter in the abandoned warehouse.

Lt. Spencer's son Patrick, who serves on the Home Again Advisory Council, represented the Spencer family as a plaque dedicating the house in his father's name was unveiled before representatives of the City of Worcester, UMass Memorial Health Care, Community Healthlink, and the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts.

Worcester City Manager Michael O'Brien, joined by Worcester's Acting Commissioner of Health and Human Services Jay Gardiner, who has been involved in the project since its inception, participated in the dedication ceremony and told those in attendance that having the Spencer name associated with the residence was very meaningful. He said the legacy of the work being done at the Lt. Tommy Spencer House is "so very important to the community" and proves Worcester's reputation of having a heart and coming together to solve challenges.

UMass Memorial Heath Care CEO, John O'Brien thanked the Community Healthlink team for their hard work in making Spencer House a reality and said the program will soon serve as "a wonderful asset to the neighborhood and our community." John Shea, chair of the Community Healthlink Board of Directors, spoke of the importance of Spencer House to the people who would soon be living there saying, "The hard work we've done to make this a reality is so important to the clients...who are some of the most disenfranchised of people among us." He also related the story Home Again staff shared with him of a Spencer House resident who toured the house prior to moving in and was moved to tears by the welcoming environment of what will soon be a secure and stable home for him.

Home Again Planning Committee member Reverend Barbara Merritt of the First Unitarian Church of Worcester gave a blessing in which she honored the memory of Lt. Spencer saying, "As a firefighter, he was willing to give his life, to save the lives of some homeless people. He made the ultimate sacrifice. May some of his spirit live on in you and in this house."

Patrick Spencer joined Community Healthlink CEO Deborah Ekstrom as she unveiled the dedication plaque bearing the photo of Lt. Spencer that will hang in the room in which clients engage in activities. Patrick, who volunteered his time to help refurbish the house, responded to the honor saying that his father believed strongly in helping others and that it should be done with a smile and in the spirit of fun.

The Lt. Tommy Spencer House is the first multi-client, cluster residence in the Home Again program, which provides permanent, stable housing and support services to chronically homeless people who are seeking help to improve their lives. The residence has rooms for 14 men and includes common areas such as a dining room, living room, activities room, and a kitchen. The first three residents of the Spencer House moved in last week with more residents moving in over the next few months.

All Home Again Clients Accepting Services

All of the current participants in Home Again who have been in permanent housing for a month or more are actively participating in the case management service and all are voluntarily taking advantage of other available health services which include primary care, mental health, and substance abuse services.

As part of the housing first model on which Home Again is based, we offer chronically homeless people, or those at risk of becoming chronically homeless, a permanent stable home and a range of support services to address the issues that led them to become homeless. These services cover the areas of mental and physical health, substance use, job skills, and money management. While the Home Again program mandates that clients meet with a case worker weekly, it does not compel them to utilize the offered support services. As a result, the 100 percent success rate with clients accessing such programs is a sign that the permanent housing model can be more effective than traditional approaches for some clients.

This success rate underscores the basis of Home Again's mission that having a home is part of the healing process.Once our participants are in a home, the impact on their behavior, attitude, and goals is almost instantaneous. With the security of having a place to sleep and call their own, they immediately make changes in their lives including visiting health providers, discontinuing negative behaviors, or having new goals to improve their situation. One client who was actively using substances while homeless stopped immediately after being housed and had employment as their primary goal within a week. That one intervention has a tremendous impact on the well-being of that person, which will ripple out into the community.

Home Again Clients Reside in a Range of Settings

The Home Again approach carefully tailors housing plans that best match the individual needs of clients.We have found that some clients are more successful in an independent unit and others in a unit that has peer support around them. To that end, we are offering our clients scattered site housing as well as the opportunity to live in a multi-resident clustered site.

Home Again has already placed seven clients in scattered sites around the city of Worcester; three residents recently moved into the Lt. Tommy Spencer House clustered residence, and one client selected a location outside of Worcester. Making housing options available both within and outside the city ensures that there are a wide range of choices for clients and that the services offered by Home Again are benefiting the entire region. For some clients, a less urban setting offers a fresh start and the privacy to begin to reclaim their lives.

As Home Again develops additional scattered site and clustered housing opportunities, we plan to continue to identify permanent homes throughout the Greater Worcester area with the goal of radically reducing the number of people living in shelters and on the streets.

Home Again Now Accepting Donations Online

Your generous support will assist Home Again in helping homeless adults take the steps needed to reclaim their lives and move away from reliance on costly emergency services, which will improve the overall quality of life for the communities in the Greater Worcester area.

Please click here to visit our online donations page.

When you make a donation, you become part of a compassionate and proven solution that is working to improve people's lives through the power of a having a place to call home.

Thank you.

The New York Times Editorializes in Favor of Supportive Housing

The New York Times editorialized in favor of the benefits of having supportive housing for homeless people integrated into neighborhoods. The editorial was based on a recent report from NYU's Furman Center on Real Estate and Public Policy, which concluded that properties located in the vicinity of supportive housing for homeless people actually increase in value.

Major Michael Copeland

Read an interview with Home Again Advisory Council member Major Michael Copeland of the Worcester Salvation Army who talks about how providing chronically homeless people with a safe and secure home can change their lives.
About Home Again
Home Again has created and implemented a model program that will reduce the number of chronically and pre-chronically homeless adults who live on the streets, consistently use emergency shelters and rely on emergency rooms for all their medical needs. Home Again serves chronically and pre-chronically homeless adults by providing them immediately with permanent housing, community-based support services, and a case management staff who assist with access to health care, mental health and employment services.
 
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