For more than ten years, I have come into MAP each day with the understanding that my work will never be done. There will always be people experiencing homelessness, however, it has been my belief that it should be for a brief time, during which they are treated with dignity and respect; be provided safe, sanitary, secure and supportive shelter and services; and have meaningful avenues to permanent housing. I know there will always be people who are in need of support to meet even their basic needs. I know at times there will be greater demand for our aid, like now when 25% of people experiencing homelessness in Boston are employed yet still unable to afford the high cost of housing or many of their basic needs. One of the main tenets of MAP has always been that the people we serve be treated with dignity and respect and I didn’t feel we could stand idly by knowing those MAP serves were being treated in an inhumane manner, not having their basic need of safe, sanitary, supportive and secure shelter; comprehensive healthcare to treat addiction; or meaningful avenues to permanent housing met exacerbated by the abrupt closure of Long Island Shelter. As such, just as MAP has in the past, I found it necessary to begin to broaden our support to the people we serve and advocate alongside them for both their immediate and long-term needs.
Over the past two years MAP volunteers and I have joined other concerned individuals, providers and agencies to organize and advocate alongside and in support of people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Greater Boston. During this time we organized with the Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee (BHSC) to provide a platform for those impacted to make meaningful change with the core belief that housing, dignity and respect are all human rights. We have utilized direct action, negotiation, and demonstration to make changes for improved shelter conditions and increased shelter capacity; support of significant opportunities out of homelessness; upstream prevention of homelessness and housing displacement; to replace and increase stabilization and recovery beds for people experiencing homelessness and seeking treatment for addiction. We have spent a great deal of time advocating for dignified and respectful treatment of people experiencing homelessness in Greater Boston, and solutions to the lasting negative impacts the closure of Long Island has had on individuals.
One of our most recent advocacy projects has been to work on a Call to Action to declare a State of Emergency on Homelessness in Massachusetts. Since there is an unprecedented number of people experiencing homelessness in the state; 21,135 individuals were found during the 2015 point in time count; and this number is only increasing. You can read more about the crisis, our proposed solutions, and endorse the Call to Action by going here.
Since we’ve increased our services to provide broader support to our constituents, we thought it would only be appropriate to adjust our name to reflect these changes. We are simply adding an “A” and will now be known as the Material Aid and Advocacy Program (MAAP) and hope you will welcome this invitation to engage in our work to advocate alongside the people you have supported for so long.
Cassie Hurd, Program Coordinator