Our community is facing an unprecedented housing crisis, as families navigate a third year of the pandemic, a skyrocketing cost of living, and a dense, competitive local housing market. Intakes for emergency housing are up, with our triage team seeing 10+ new cases per week. Many are newly arriving immigrant families from Venezuela, Colombia, Peru and Nicaragua. Hundreds are facing utility shut offs with increasing costs. Others find La Colaborativa after exhausting all other avenues of housing support, and facing the harsh reality of sleeping on the streets. We don’t let that happen.
There was a family who arrived recently from Nicaragua, who came to us with their child asleep in a grocery cart after spending several nights sleeping in the train station. There was a man paying $500 a month to sleep under the kitchen table of a Chelsea apartment. There have been dozens of domestic violence victims in recent months, afraid to go home, turned away by other organizations, and living with harassments and threats from their abusers who ignore restraining orders. They all found safety at La Colaborativa.
And there was Hugo, a single father to four girls, desperate to find stability for his family after losing his wife. Hugo and his daughters were living in a basement when he first came to La Colaborativa. It was wet, infested with rodents, and covered in mold and chipping paint. Hugo’s restaurant job made it hard for him to care for his daughters and he had to cut back on hours. The basement was all he could afford.
La Colaborativa helped Hugo secure temporary shelter in Lowell and qualify for the HomeBASE program. Hugo and his girls are on their way to stability and he continues to work with our team to find more permanent housing and a job with living wages. Chelsea is his safety net and Hugo wakes his girls up at 4am every day to bring them to school in Chelsea. He hopes to find a permanent home here, where he feels part of a safe, supportive community, but his future is still uncertain.
Everyone who walks in our doors is treated with the utmost care. We welcome them with warm meals, coats, shoes, and whatever other resources we can gather. For anyone without shelter, we place them in hotels temporarily while case managers work around the clock to find more permanent housing placements. Across Massachusetts, the shelter system is at capacity, leaving smaller organizations like ours filling in the gaps to keep families housed. We don’t let anyone sleep on the streets.
Unfortunately, for most of these cases like Hugo’s, the future is uncertain. Still, we are here doing Whatever it Takes to navigate that uncertainty with our members, creatively and persistently helping them find a way home. Please support La Colaborativa in this critical work.