Northern Berkshire Community Coalition
Organizing and supporting the Northern Berkshire community for over 32 years!
Housing & Homelessness
February 10, 2017
To download these FAQS, click here.
Ways to get involved and resources:
• Donate to St. Vincent de Paul society who helps homeless individuals with finances. Also, supports community members who are on the verge of losing their home/cannot make rent.
• Get involved with the Northern Berkshire Habitat for Humanity
• Read “Evicted” by Matthew Desmond
• Create an action group that focuses on the financial issues of residents/how to help those who are homeless
• Use and support already existing resources like the Louison house
• Take the free Community Outreach Volunteer training through the Northern Berkshire Community Coalition.
Q: How do we identify individual needs?
A: Identifying individual needs can be done in a variety of ways. Most service agencies utilize a needs assessment based intake process, which helps to identify areas of need for an individual who is seeking support. This can also happen conversationally with an individual, through asking the “right question” or the “next question”… as an individual asks for help, asking them questions to help identify, not just the immediate need, but the overarching need and the things that will impact them in the long term.
Q: Is transitional help the only solution here? How do we follow a model for stable, affordable housing?
A: Transitional housing services are available and are not the only solution available. Once a person becomes homeless, especially if they had been a homeowner before, the challenges are enormous when working toward stable and affordable housing. Preventative services are key to helping individuals and families work toward maintaining housing and/or working toward a sustainable housing situation. A need in north Berkshire is for more financial resources to be dedicated to the programs that support individuals/families in achieving stable, affordable housing.
Q: Current resources?
A: Louison House has different housing options available to individuals and families that are experiencing homelessness and there continues to be a need for more support through financial resources. It was recognized that current housing and homelessness polices prioritize women and children. Berkshire Regional Housing Authority has many services, you can learn more on their website… http://bcrha.com .
Q: Can we put together a homelessness action task force?
A: Yes. To achieve this, individuals who are interested need to engage with existing resources and housing/homelessness services and there will need to be an identified leader of this task force.
Q: Are NA landlord/building owners keeping up with state building standards?
A: NA is “One of the best” at maintaining health standards. Also, they pay close attention to occupancy certifications.
HUD’s (Non-Chronic) Homelessness Definition:
Programs funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) use a different, more limited definition of homelessness [found in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (P.L. 111-22, Section 1003)].
· An individual who lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
· An individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including a car, park, abandoned building, bus or train station, airport, or camping ground;
· An individual or family living in a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designated to provide temporary living arrangements (including hotels and motels paid for by Federal, State or local government programs for low-income individuals or by charitable organizations, congregate shelters, and transitional housing);
· An individual who resided in a shelter or place not meant for human habitation and who is exiting an institution where he or she temporarily resided;
· An individual or family who will imminently lose their housing [as evidenced by a court order resulting from an eviction action that notifies the individual or family that they must leave within 14 days, having a primary nighttime residence that is a room in a hotel or motel and where they lack the resources necessary to reside there for more than 14 days, or credible evidence indicating that the owner or renter of the housing will not allow the individual or family to stay for more than 14 days, and any oral statement from an individual or family seeking homeless assistance that is found to be credible shall be considered credible evidence for purposes of this clause]; has no subsequent residence identified; and lacks the resources or support networks needed to obtain other permanent housing; and
· Unaccompanied youth and homeless families with children and youth defined as homeless under other Federal statutes who have experienced a long-term period without living independently in permanent housing, have experienced persistent instability as measured by frequent moves over such period, and can be expected to continue in such status for an extended period of time because of chronic disabilities, chronic physical health or mental health conditions, substance addiction, histories of domestic violence or childhood abuse, the presence of a child or youth with a disability, or multiple barriers to employment.
HUD’s of Chronically Homeless Definition:
(1) A “homeless individual with a disability,” (mental, physical, emotional, or developmental that can be documented by licensed professional or Social Security to fit conditions that the condition is expected to be long continuing, substantially impedes the person’s ability to live independently and could be improved with more suitable housing)
· Lives in a place not meant for human habitation, a safe haven, or in an emergency shelter;
•Has been homeless (as described above) continuously for at least 12 months or on at least 4 separate occasions in the last 3 years where the combined occasions must total at least 12 months (with the 4 Occasions separated by a break of at least seven nights
An individual who has been residing in an institutional care facility for fewer than 90 days and met all of the criteria in paragraph (1) of this definition, before entering that facility;
Summary of Major Changes
• Four occasions must total 12 months
• Occasion is defined by a break of at least seven nights not residing in an emergency shelter, safe haven, or residing in a place meant for human habitation (e.g., staying with a friend,
in a hotel/motel paid for by program participant)
• Stays in institution of fewer than 90 days do not constitute as a
break and count toward total time homeless
Waiting lists for tenant based subsidies (e.g. Section 8 vouchers) are typically 3-5 years and waiting lists for public housing units tend to be significantly less, with most being 1-3 years. There is variability by location.
Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, our partner agency, has a first time homebuyer’s program, which is excellent. The contact person for that program is Lisa Wright. She is Vice President of Berkshire Housing Corporation, and she coordinates this program. She can be reached at (413) 344-4808.