For Immediate Release
November 7, 2013
For more information contact:
Caitlin Golden (617) 367- 6447 ext. 28
MHSA LAUNCHES HOUSING PROGRAM FOR LGBTQ HOMELESS YOUNG ADULTS
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance will partner with AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts, DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services, and Justice Resource Institute
BOSTON – The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) announced today the launch of a new permanent supportive housing program for LGBTQ unaccompanied homeless young adults. The National Alliance to End Homelessness estimates that anywhere from 20 percent to 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ. MHSA’s pilot program will provide 32 units of permanent supportive housing for LGBTQ young adults between the ages of 18 and 24 in Greater Boston and Western Massachusetts. MHSA will subcontract with three service providers for this initiative: the Youth on Fire program of the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts in Cambridge, DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services in Greenfield, and Justice Resource Institute (JRI) in Boston.
“Homelessness places people at greater risk for violence, trauma, exploitation, HIV infection and more,” said John Gatto, Executive Director of JRI Health, a division of JRI. “These risks are exacerbated for young people who are often ineligible for housing services or ineffectively served in the existing system. In addition, LGBTQ youth disproportionately experience violence and bullying, so we are thrilled to partner with MHSA in creating supportive housing opportunities for homeless and unstably housed LGBTQ young people.”
Ayala Livny, Program Manager at the Youth on Fire program of the AIDS Action Committee, shares Gatto’s concern for the unique needs of LGBTQ young adults. “We know that LGBTQ young adults are more likely than their straight peers to be on the streets; and we know that when they are on the streets, they are more likely than their straight peers to experience violence and victimization, and to put themselves at risk for contracting HIV, STIs, and other communicable diseases,” Livny said. “This new housing program will provide a much-needed safety net and provide a phenomenal opportunity to significantly impact the health and safety outcomes for some of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable and marginalized young adults.”
For DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services in Greenfield, the pilot program will provide an opportunity for the organization to incorporate a “Housing First” approach into its existing housing and service models. Housing First is an approach that prioritizes moving individuals into low-barrier housing and then providing support services to enable those individuals to maintain their housing. “DIAL/SELF has been providing housing support to vulnerable youth and young adults for 35 years,” said Phillip Ringwood, Acting Executive Director. “I’m very excited to see us expand opportunities for area LGBTQ young adults, and am looking forward to implementing a Housing First model as part of our existing services.”
The pilot is funded through MHSA’s Home & Healthy for Good (HHG) program, which has traditionally provided permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless adults through funding from the state budget and other leveraged funds. This pilot will combine the strengths of low-threshold housing with support services that are specifically tailored to the needs of LGBTQ young adults. “I am excited that here in Massachusetts we can address the disproportionate number of LGBTQ youth who find themselves homeless and on the streets of our Commonwealth,” MHSA President & Executive Director Joe Finn said. “By drawing on the expertise of youth providers like JRI, Youth on Fire, and DIAL/SELF, we hope to build a permanent supportive housing model for young adults that can be replicated throughout Massachusetts and beyond.”
The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA) is a nonprofit public policy advocacy organization with the singular mission of ending homelessness in the Commonwealth. MHSA represents nearly 100 community-based agencies statewide. For more information, visit www.mhsa.net.
For more information, please contact Caitlin Golden, MHSA Director of Public Relations & Community Engagement, at 617-367-6447 ext. 28 or firstname.lastname@example.org.