Today, Pam Parmakian from the Amherst Housing Authority joined us for a discussion on affordable housing opportunities in the area. Pam did an overview of the programs that are in place in Western Massachusetts. In Amherst, there are both federal and state programs to help individuals secure safe and affordable housing. Pam cited several Massachusetts rental voucher programs, state public housing, AVPH, and Section 8 as resources. Pam listened carefully to each participant as they expressed their frustration with the housing authorities and asked questions about specific experiences-- why does it take so long to get on the waitlist? Why do some people, such as those who have been recently incarcerated, seem to get secure housing before others? Since the housing authorities are difficult to access via bus route, how else can individuals get in contact with administration? Pam also went over the application process and cleared up some confusion that she sees frequently regarding waitlists. Pam then handed out some resources, like a list of all the housing authorities in the area and a table of local housing complexes and what they offer. Pam and the participants also discussed the importance of voting and speaking with your local legislators-- as one participant stated, “we can make the world a better place for us if we show up, find out what’s going on. We need our state legislators to represent us, so let them know that the housing crisis is still a priority for many.” Participants left the meeting with questions, concerns, and suggestions still on their minds, but now they hopefully had the resources to address them properly. Pam also took some time after the meeting ended to speak more thoroughly with several participants, who were grateful for the opportunity. There is still a lot of work to be done, but at least we know Pam and the Amherst Housing Authority is there to help when it is needed.
By: Sadie Mazur