The City of Brockton is tackling what Mayor Linda Balzotti calls one of the major problems in the city: homelessness. Thursday morning, Brockton and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) officials celebrated recent success but the fight isn’t over yet.
Father Bill’s and Mainspring, the city’s homeless shelter, houses 82 families and 200 individuals every night but these numbers are slowly diminishing. Next door on Spring Street, a 32-unit apartment building recently opened as permanent housing for the homeless.
President and CEO of the social service agency John Yazwinski explained that Brockton received a $600,000 federal stimulus in 2009 under the Homelessness Prevention Program and was able to disperse funding to residents. However, more focus needs to be on creating assisted living units, “It was a one-time stimulus package that came from the President and we’re just celebrating to say that we have to put more dollars that are kind of funding shelters, we have to start putting them into new initiatives like this.”
Yazwinski further stated Father Bill’s and Mainspring have been working with Veterans Affairs to make sure not a single veteran is left on Brockton streets. Fifteen units at the Spring Street home are reserved for veterans.
Federal grant money continues to filter down from HUD to Brockton to take people off the streets and back in their homes. Mayor Balzotti explained they receive a Community Development Block Grant which helps the increasing threat of foreclosure, “We’ve also used it to address issues that the city faces as a result of foreclosed properties. So we’re putting some of the money into those properties to make them livable again and get them not only back on the tax rolls but get families into them.”
Other federal grant money helps fund programs like WorkExpress, a job training program, but also to keep families and individuals financially stable as HUD Regional Administrator Barbara Fields explained, “[We] provide counseling when there’s that first hint of an issue. And sometimes families are just one medical bill away from not being able to pay their mortgage but if we can help them through that difficult time they can stay in their home.”
(HUD Regional Administrator Barbara Fields)
(Brockton Mayor Linda Balzotti)