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Northampton building becomes critical source of housing for marginalized homeless population – Reminder Publications

NORTHAMPTON – With homelessness continuing to be a point of concern across the state, a local nonprofit is using a renovated building at 5 Franklin St. to help create a supportive, yet independent housing facility in cutting edge …….

NORTHAMPTON – With homelessness continuing to be a point of concern across the state, a local nonprofit is using a renovated building at 5 Franklin St. to help create a supportive, yet independent housing facility in cutting edge fashion.

Independent Housing Solutions (IHS), started by Jessica Bossie of Hilltown Community Health Centers, aims to provide life-stabilizing, affordable, permanent housing with support services for medically complex individuals who have been chronically homeless in the past.

Bossie, who has spent years advocating and working with the homeless population across the three major Western Mass. counties as a primary-care physician, told Reminder Publishing that the renovated commercial building at 5 Franklin St. will house 16 beds for individuals who experience chronic houselessness for a variety of reasons.

IHS began in August 2021 through the vision of Bossie, who wanted to create special types of housing for people with specialized needs. The nonprofit also acts as a neutral entity that can partner with other direct care providers for people who are struggling with housing instability and homelessness.

For a lot of Bossie’s patients, many of whom are on low income, there are usually two options for housing: either completely independent living, or going to something called a rest home, which is a federal living situation. But, according to Bossie, a federal living situation can be burdensome for folks on the cusp of houselessness, especially since these places only provide a little over $72 a month for spending money.

“Folks get really frustrated by that situation because they only have $72 to spend a month,” said Bossie. “Whereas, if they chose to be homeless or choose to live in a voucher type of housing, they would only have to pay one-third of their income or nothing if they go to stay in a homeless shelter.”

Because of this cumbersome federal living situation, most people choose to be in a homeless shelter, according to Bossie. Eventually, people in a shelter will receive a housing voucher, which is usually a four-to-six-year process, and then move into independent housing, which Bossie said does not always accommodate the needs of these residents.

To combat these systemic issues, the building on 5 Franklin St. aims to offer supportive independent housing with an array of spaces including an oversized communal kitchen that accommodates a co-living occupancy, study areas, shared living rooms and alcoves. In addition to the housing, IHS will also provide meals, medical services, case management and mental health services to help residents prepare for independent living. IHS has also partnered with Manna Community Kitchen for meals and a visiting nurse will also come by twice a day to check up on residents.

“The common fridge will be stocked with milk, cheese, bread, fresh fruit and vegetables …….

Source: https://www.thereminder.com/localnews/northampton/northampton-building-becomes-critical-source-of-ho/

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