In the wake of continued and fervent advocacy on the part of Mayor Linda Tyer, members of the Berkshire Delegation, and community organizations, toward strengthening services for the homeless throughout Berkshire County, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) announced this week that the county would receive $150,000 in funding to enhance its winter overflow sheltering.
The funds will preserve the existing collaborative work among shelter and service providers throughout the county, ensuring that each has the necessary resources to prepare for the needs that go along with the winter season. The state will contract directly with ServiceNet (Barton’s Crossing), of Pittsfield; it will then subcontract with the other organizations in the county, including Soldier On in Pittsfield, Construct in Great Barrington, and Louison House in North Adams.
Brad Gordon, executive director/staff attorney, with the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority (BCRHA), learned of the allocation via a teleconference announcement from the state agency on Tuesday, Oct. 30. After working to secure funding for several months without a final confirmation, Gordon and other local partners reached out to Mayor Tyer in October for her assistance in advocacy.
“It is welcome news that the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) will continue to provide funding for the Winter Overflow Homeless Shelter beds. The continued support of DHCD, the Berkshire legislative delegation, and Mayor Tyer are indicative of both the high level of need for these resources during the cold weather months and a measure of the effectiveness of the six year-long collaboration between Berkshire County’s shelter providers and the Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority.”
As Pittsfield is the largest city in the Berkshires, this funding will be critical to serving those in need. Additionally, the city recently reestablished its Homeless Prevention Committee to address this issue.
“My deepest thanks to the Department of Community and Housing Development for providing this crucial funding once again. For the past six years, it has served as a vital resource for Pittsfield’s and Berkshire County’s homeless community. We know that access to winter sheltering is literally life or death for homeless men and women,” Tyer said. “Now, we are able to provide this much needed support to members of our community. I am deeply proud to be a part of a county that knows the value of true partnership to ensure that we continue to help our under-resourced citizens,” said Tyer.
ServiceNet’s Jay Sacchetti, Senior Vice President of Shelter & Housing, Vocational, and Addiction Services, acknowledged the significance of collaboration and praised the state for the funding.
“Our partnership and advocacy with Berkshire County Regional Housing Authority has made it possible to continue a county wide effort to shelter people during the coldest months of the year. We are pleased to be able to collaborate with and provide funding to Louison House, Construct and Soldier On to meet the needs of homeless individuals in Berkshire County,” Sacchetti said. “We would like the thank Assistant Deputy Undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development Jane Banks for making this funding available.”
State Senator Adam G. Hinds, D-Pittsfield, also reflected on the timing of this funding.
"This comes at an important time as cold weather arrives, and at a time when there remains an incredible need. When it comes to supporting some of the most vulnerable in our community it often takes teamwork at the local and state level, and this is a tremendous example of that,” Hinds said.
While there’s always more work to be done, State Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield, said Berkshire County’s ability to collaborate sets the stage for continued progress in this area.
“Agencies in Berkshire County collaborate better than anywhere else and there is no better example than those that work together to address winter shelter needs. Because of that, the $150,000 of state funding goes a long way,” said Farley-Bouvier. “We have a great deal of work to do to reduce and eliminate homelessness in our city and in the Commonwealth. In the meantime, we are incredibly fortunate to have these dedicated professionals serving these vulnerable citizens.”
To learn more about ServiceNet, please visit here: https://www.servicenet.org/