[Hpn] Southbridge organization places 11 homeless people
William Charles Tinker
Sat, 6 Nov 2004 08:59:57 -0500
Forwarded From: Jodi Wright email@example.com
November 05. 2004
Southbridge organization places 11 homeless people
SOUTHBRIDGE— The Southbridge Interfaith Hospitality Network, which
normally deals only with families, placed four homeless individuals in
addition to two homeless families in apartments this week.
The network found housing for 11 people by using vouchers from a federal
Housing and Urban Development pilot program.
Network Director Margie S. Ducharme said the 11 people - two families of
single mothers and children and four individual adults - got apartments
Monday though a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development pilot
program. The program targets homeless people with disabilities, with support
services provided by other sources.
Ms. Ducharme said SIHN would provide case management services for the
The vouchers were awarded to SIHN through about $3.6 million in Continuum
of Care grants awarded to Worcester last spring. The grants provide
permanent and transitional housing for the homeless.
The local network, organized in June 2001, provides temporary housing for
homeless families using a dozen area churches and an estimated 700
volunteers. The network also provides transportation and assistance in
connecting to schools, day care, jobs, training and benefits.
Each church provides food and shelter for one-week periods. Families stay
in the program an average of four months before being moved into permanent
housing. The program helps the families learn money management and set aside
money for down payments on apartments.
Ms. Ducharme said the two families, which included a total of five
children, had gone through the network program and were awaiting apartments,
when two three-bedroom vouchers became available through the federal
Ms. Ducharme said the four adults who received the federal vouchers were
not housed by the network, which does not accept homeless individuals.
The vouchers cover the rent, and recipients then pay 30 percent of whatever
income they may have to the organization through which they got the voucher
to cover case management services.
Ms. Ducharme, a homeless outreach worker in New Hampshire and on the
streets of Boston and New York City before coming here in 2001, said she has
helped homeless people in this area until they could find housing, bringing
them items such as sleeping bags.
"I can finally offer them something," she said of the vouchers.
She has said the homeless have a tougher time in rural areas such as
southern Worcester County because of the lack of services, including
shelters. Ms. Ducharme said she identified 33 sites last year in Webster and
Dudley where homeless people were living. She said Southbridge probably has
a greater number of such sites.
The homeless people who received the federal vouchers included two elderly
women. One was living in a camper without heat in the woods and another was
living in an abandoned building, according to Ms. Ducharme. The others were
living at campsites in the woods and in abandoned buildings.
Ms. Ducharme said the network is also asking for help from area churches
for its mission. She said the buildings of two of the participating churches
cannot be used to house families, although the church congregations provide
volunteers to the program.
Because of the shortage of space, she said, the network is looking for
places to house families during Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks. She said
the network, which serves a maximum of 18 people at a time, is almost always
at capacity. She said that on the day the two families moved to apartments,
she received three calls from homeless families seeking help.
Ms. Marge S. Ducharme may be reached at e-mail address: