Amherst Transitional Housing Pilot --- Completed February 2015

Purpose

1. Provide participants who were formerly homeless or at-risk of homelessness with safe, private and comfortable accommodations along with strong supportive services. 2. Assist participants in attaining employment/social security income and acquire permanent housing.

History

Established in February 2013, Amherst Transitional Housing Program first comprised of 4 bedrooms that housed 6 residents in one half of a duplex.  The duplex location provided residents with access to public transportation, grocery stores, laundromat, health care providers, and other vital services.

ACC and its partner, a seasoned local developer, solicited donations from the community and provided a completely furnished house for residents. Household items included beds, bedding, towels, dishes, kitchenware, furniture, desks/chairs, lamps, and fans. In order to subsidize the program costs for its participants, all of whom had little to no income, ACC paid the rent, utilities and heat bills, made household purchases while its partner remodeled the duplex, creating a beautiful, new space.  

In April, 2014, ACC and its partner renovated the duplex and added four additional bedrooms to the program. At the time of its completion, 10-12 people lived in a 2-story duplex with 8 bedrooms.

Weekly house meeting

Operations

ACC held weekly house meetings. Residents were required to attend the house meeting to address communal concerns.

ACC provided supportive services to residents, which included mandatory case management and on-demand support. Case management meetings lasted 1 to 1.5 hours per session. Residents worked on budgeting, finding housing, employment and tackling other personal goals. Residents were also able to drop in and ask for assistance during office hours or call/email during non-office hours. The average staff/resident contact was 2 hours/week per person.  

A paid house manager lived on-site. He helped to prevent crises and mitigate challenging scenarios within the house. 

Additional Services and Opportunities

In addition to Amherst Community Connections, the residents received ongoing service and case management from collaborating agencies, which included ServiceNet, Clinical Support Options, Department of Mental Health, and Eliot Homeless Services.

Residents were offered paid internship positions to gain additional income and employment experience. All Things Local store in Amherst served as the intern site.  Through hands-on tutorials and assistance from professionals in the field, interns mastered skills in baking/culinary and business management.

Conclusions

On average, the residents stayed in the program for 3-6 months before they graduated.

ACC has served over 30 program participants. 21 people have graduated from the program in its two years of operation. 19 of them have obtained housing, employment or income. 

ACC sees the importance of housing individuals who are homeless and plans to facilitate the development of permanent housing units for homeless individuals in Amherst.