Letter to the Editor: BHA Life Management Program Follow-up

October 19, 2013

Submitted by Gene Clerkin, Bedford Housing Authority Commissioner

I thought Kim did her usual tremendous job of framing the Bedford Housing Authority “Life Management Program” issue.  Below is a letter to further discussion:

What is the best way to take a stand against overcrowded hotels used for affordable housing and poor state policy regarding homelessness…support the Bedford Housing Authority.  The Bedford Housing Authority has been providing high quality apartments for homeless families for over 50 years, and helping our Town do more than their fair share.  We manage a self-sustaining budget, have a professional property management team, and a volunteer Board of Commissioners to deal with all the issues.  No crowds, no unmanaged problems, no negative impacts, and plenty of success stories.

No hotel should ever be used to house a homeless family.  The state has no answers regarding an ever increasing problem of homelessness, but handing out vouchers for families to stay in random hotels with no support system is poor policy.  The Bedford Housing Authority manages the flow of homeless families through our waiting list.  We have a fixed 100 units and accept approximately 5 new families a year.  When one resident moves on to better things, one unit becomes available.   The key is moving on to better things and away from public subsidy.

We need your help.  The need for housing is a national problem, and we need to do a better job of pushing back on bad national and state policy, and creating better local policy.  Qualified homeless families that need help, and receive a public housing unit, should be assigned a professional social services coordinator to show them how to help themselves.  Public welfare with no plan of action and just temporary solutions helps no one.

The November 4’th Town Meeting Warrant has an CPA Article asking for funding for a 2 year Housing Authority “Life Management” Pilot Program costing $42,500 per year from Affordable Housing reserves.  We currently have $600,000 + in those reserves.  The Pilot Program will follow a proven formula of quickly pointing families to opportunities, and helping them back to self-sufficiency.  Our Program is part old tricks and part new resources cultivated through job referral partnerships.  When our residents earn more income, it helps our bottom line budget, and we act as a model community not only doing our fair share, but doing it in a more creative and thoughtful way.   When the program is over, we will show you the results, and you be the judge if we should continue.  We ask for your YES vote to fund this article.

Gene Clerkin

48 Elm Street.

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October 20, 2013 9:11 am

So let’s just keep throwing money at problems like homelessness! It will not solve anything, but I’m sure it will help some people sleep better at night. In the name of creating independence, we are creating more dependence on town, state, and federal governments. Why can’t these 15 people we want to help take courses at the local community college? Give them a ride and provide child care free of charge.

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