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The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

March 13, 2018 - Worcester Telegram & Gazette - City of Worcester Task Force
Worcester forms task force on homelessness


By Nick Kotsopoulos

March 13, 2018

WORCESTER - City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. will chair a 28-member task force that will conduct an in-depth examination of the community’s needs and resources to address adult chronic homelessness.

Mr. Augustus, who last month announced his intention to establish the Task Force for Sustaining Housing First Solutions, said the group’s ultimate goal is to develop a plan for actions and resources to sustain a long-term system of permanent supportive housing in the city.

He said the foremost challenge before the task force is to re-energize  the “Housing First” approach, which targets chronic homeless people on the streets, in encampments or in shelters, and aims to provide the appropriate level of supportive housing.

The task force includes leaders from housing, social services, health care, philanthropic, government and religious sectors.

“We must work to ensure that everyone in our community, regardless of socioeconomic status, has the ability to reach their full potential,” Mr. Augustus said in announcing the task force’s membership. “This cannot be achieved without safe, stable housing.”

Worcester County saw an increase in the number of adult homeless individuals in 2017 for the third consecutive year. Of particular concern, the number of chronically homeless people, both veterans and non-veterans, increased from 41 to 60 in 2017, according to Mr. Augustus.

As part of the Task Force, the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts has provided funding to hire Barbara Poppe as a consultant.

She is the former executive director of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness and is a nationally recognized expert on homelessness and results-driven private-public partnerships.

The task force, which will seek community input, will host two public listening sessions, from 5 to 6:30 p.m. March 21 at the Worcester Senior Center and from 5 to 6:30 p.m. June 13 at the Worcester Public Library.

Mr. Augustus said the task force also has launched a website where people can submit comments and questions: www.worcesterma.gov/hhs/housing-first.

Members of the task force are:

Mr. Augustus, chair; Jan Yost, president and chief executive officer of the Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts; Grace Carmark, executive director of the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance; Jim Cuddy, executive director of the South Middlesex Opportunity Council; John Ford, consultant, former assistant secretary of Health and Human Services; Katherine Calano, city homeless projects manager.

Mattie Castiel, commissioner of city Department of Health & Human Services; Joe Finn, executive director of Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance; Sharon Krefetz, retired professor of Political Science/Urban Development, Clark University; the Rev. Bob Bachelder, minister and president, Worcester Area Mission Society; Brian Bickford, team leader, PATH Homeless & Outreach Services.

Alex Corrales, executive director, Worcester Housing Authority; Patrick DiGregorio, manager of supportive housing services, Veterans, Inc.; David Fort, chair, Worcester Board of Health; Dr. Eric Garcia, medical director, Community Healthlink Homeless Outreach and Advocacy Program; Nicole Gagne, president and chief executive officer, Community Healthlink.

Tim Garvin, president and chief executive officer, United Way of Central Massachusetts; Robyn Kennedy, associate executive director, YWCA of Central Massachusetts; Monica Lowell, vice president, Department of Community Relations, UMass Memorial Health Care; City Councilor Konstantina B. Lukes, chair, City Council Public Service and Transportation Committee.

The Rev. John Madden, pastor St. John’s Catholic Church, Hotel Grace - overflow shelter; Dominic Marcigliano, chief executive officer, Worcester Community Housing Resources; David McMahon, co-executive director, Dismas House; Doug Quattrochi, executive director, MassLandlords Association

City Councilor Sarai Rivera, chair, City Council Public Health and Human Services Committee; Michelle Smith, executive director, AIDS Project Worcester; Linn Torto, executive director, Massachusetts Interagency Council on Homelessness; and Linda Weinreb, vice president and medical director, Medicaid, Fallon Health Accountable Care Organization.