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The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way

If you are looking for more information regarding A Better Life, please contact
Alex Corrales, A Better Life's Project Coordinator, at (508) 635-3259 or
corrales@worcester-housing.com.
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way$2,408,148
 
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 3 (2015)$604,657
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 2 (2014)$567,933
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 1 (2013)$525,295
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Pilot (2012)$554,313
A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Planning Grant (2011)$155,950
 
Year:2015Amount: $604,657
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 3
Recipient:Worcester Housing Authority
ABL is moving into its third year of full implementation. In Year 3, the WHA will expand ABL to include 20 - 25 households from their state properties. This expansion comes as a result of the Massachusetts Welfare Reform legislation that was enacted in 2014 which contained a provision that allows the WHA to operate ABL in its state properties. ABL is also adding a job developer to work with all of the program participants to increase the employment rate overall.

In 2015, ABL will continue with the two cohorts of participants who were previously enrolled. One is the voluntary group that was started in 2013. Enrollment in this cohort ended in January 2014 and 12 participants remain from the original group of about 30. While some participants have graduated from the program, the decline in the number of participants is mainly due to a decline in participant interest. The second cohort which was started in 2014, is the group for whom participation in ABL was mandated by their lease; and for whom failure to participate could result in the loss of their housing. In this group which originally included 35 households, 30 remain. The five that were terminated from ABL were evicted due to lease violations that were unrelated to ABL.

The program continues to address five areas of need: educational, occupational, financial, personal, and healthcare. Preliminary outcomes indicate that ABL is effectively helping residents move to self-sufficiency.

Project Director: Mr. Raymond Mariano
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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Year:2014Amount: $567,933
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 2
Recipient:The Worcester Housing Authority
The goal of A Better Life (ABL) is to provide each participant with the tools they need to be able to exit public housing. ABL continues to address five areas of need: educational, occupational, financial, personal, and healthcare. There are signs that the program is having an impact including; a substantial decrease in the average reported credit card balance, a significant decrease in the number of participants who said they were scared about their financial situation, a substantial increase in the proportion of ABL participants that reported finishing high school, and a reported increased sense of control over their lives.

In Year 2, ABL will put additional emphasis on helping participants find jobs by adding an employment recruiter to the staff. That individual will work with employers to identify job opportunities that match the employment skills of the ABL participants. Once a participant has a job, their FLC will work with them on how to maintain that job and succeed in the workplace.

Project Director: Mr. Raymond Mariano
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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Year:2013Amount: $525,295
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Implementation, Year 1
Recipient:The Worcester Housing Authority
The goal of A Better Life (ABL) is to provide each participant with the tools they need to be able to exit public housing. ABL worked with about 30 families in the pilot grant period and provided them with intensive case management and support services from a variety of partner agencies. This program was voluntary and addressed five areas of need: educational, occupational, financial, personal, and healthcare. The specific elements of each participant's service plan were developed based on assessments completed by each program participant as they entered ABL.

By the end of the pilot project, 24 of the 31 participants were employed and three others were in school full time. Five households had begun to escrow funds and thus far had saved more than $30,000.

For Implementation Year 1, ABL will look to add voluntary participants to get the total number up to 35 in order to account for families dropping out of the program. In addition, they will add 35 families that will be mandated as a condition of their lease to participate in ABL. Both of these groups will be compared to another similar group of public housing residents who are not receiving any of the ABL programmatic supports.

Project Director: Mr. Raymond Mariano
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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Year:2012Amount: $554,313
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Pilot
Recipient:The Worcester Housing Authority
The pilot project for A Better Life will provide 30 families with intensive case management and support services from a variety of partner agencies.  The program will be voluntary and will address a broad range of needs, including educational, personal, financial and occupational, in order to provide participants with the tools they need to be able to exit public housing.  The anticipated time line for the pilot project is 15 months which will enable the evaluators to track the participants for a full 12 months.

The Worcester Housing Authority (WHA) will begin in Great Brook Valley (GBV) -- Great Brook Valley Gardens and Curtis Apartments -- an area that houses about 3,000 residents.  Most of the area's residents (75%) are Latino, and 89 percent of GBV households are headed by single females and include nearly 1,400 children.

Project Director: Mr. Raymond Mariano
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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Year:2011Amount: $155,950
Title:A Better Life: Helping Families Find Their Way - Planning Grant
Recipient:The Worcester Housing Authority
Public housing was originally intended to provide temporary housing to help unemployed workers through a transition period. However, over the years tenancy durations have become increasingly more permanent and have continued from one generation to the next. This planning grant will focus on developing a model to serve those families living at Great Brook Valley Gardens or Curtis Apartments. It is anticipated that the participants would develop a personal improvement plan, including either full-time enrollment in school or work. Participants would receive mobile housing vouchers to move into the private rental market. Participation will be voluntary; no one will be required to participate. Research indicates that poverty and environmental conditions are serious risk factors for poor health. This planning grant will enable the WHA to research what other housing authorities have done to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty and reliance on public housing and to develop a model to pilot a similar change in Worcester.

The WHA will be working with a group of community partners who have agreed to oversee and advise the planning effort by serving on an Advisory Board or Steering Committee.

Project Director: Mr. Raymond Mariano
Fiscal Agent: The Worcester Housing Authority
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