MHA, Inc. works to ensure that Western Massachusetts residents have the housing and supportive services they need to live and thrive.
The Springfield-based nonprofit operates 25 residential sites and provides extensive outreach and supported living programs that annually serve more than 600 individuals impacted by mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance abuse and homelessness.
"When you look at our growth, there’s a real strategy," said Kimberley Lee, MHA's Vice President of Resource Development and Branding. "From recovery and homeless prevention programs to residential and on-site outpatient services, we’re able to offer a real continuum of care to those we are serving."
MassHousing and MHA have a long history of partnership, which continues today.
Preventing homelessness through TPP
The Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) is a joint effort by MassHousing, housing advocates, state agencies and the Housing Court to prevent homelessness among individuals and families who are facing eviction because of behavior related to mental illness, developmental disability, substance abuse, aging-related impairments or another disability.
MHA has been the TPP provider in Western Massachusetts since the program’s creation in 1998, initially in Springfield and later to the Tri-County area.
TPP acts as a neutral party between landlord and tenant, and provides clinical consultation with the Housing Court. TPP clinicians assess the reasons for the eviction, identify needed services, develop a treatment plan to maintain the tenancy, and monitor the case. If the tenancy cannot be preserved, the program works to find more appropriate housing.
"TPP works to address the underlying social determinants such as mental illness, substance use and poverty, because unless those issues are addressed the tenancy problems will continue," said Jenni Pothier, MHA's TPP Project Director. "We help people improve their lives, and that helps keep them going forward."
In FY2018, TPP assisted 922 Massachusetts households. Of the 529 cases closed by TPP, homelessness was prevented (where the tenancy was stabilized and sustainable) in 478 cases, a 90% success rate.
MHA and MassHousing are working to expand TPP’s focus to proactively identify problem tenancies and intervene sooner. Ms. Lee noted that the state Legislature's continued funding of TPP shows they "understand the importance and role tenancy plays in the lives of the people we serve."
Creating and Preserving Affordable Housing for Those in Recovery
MHA recently received a $44,300 grant through the Center for Community Recovery Innovations (CCRI), a nonprofit subsidiary of MassHousing that supports affordable, sober housing and supportive programs. The CCRI funds will support renovations at Avon Place, an 8-unit property for men and women in recovery.
This is the first CCRI grant MHA has received, and helped leverage other funds to replace the roof, upgrade windows and improve the accessibility ramp at Avon Place.
"The CCRI grant was instrumental to allowing us to make these improvements, and to make this a place we would want to live and our residents want to live," said Christine Palmieri, MHA's Vice President of Recovery and Housing.
Ms. Pothier noted that Springfield is a hotspot for the opioid epidemic and estimates that more than a third of the individuals served by MHA are struggling with addiction. Affordable, sober housing is a much-needed resource for the community.
"As an agency that shares a similar mission with MassHousing—confronting the housing challenges to improve the lives of its people—MHA is a natural and authentic partner we value at CCRI, Community Services and MassHousing alike," said MassHousing’s Ed Chase.
MassHousing’s partnership with MHA continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of Western Massachusetts residents.
"It's not just a funding relationship," Ms. Pothier said. "It’s been an involved, integral partnership. We're grateful for all of the involvement we have with MassHousing."