Making connections kick off
February 27, 2014
More than 4,000 seniors and persons with disabilities living in the Boston Housing Authority’s elderly/disabled developments will soon be getting a knock on their doors from a volunteer asking them how they are doing.
Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined staff from the BHA and city’s Commission on the Affairs of the Elderly today to kick off Making Connections, a new initiative to better connect BHA elderly and disabled residents with needed services, at theTorre Unidad development in the South End.
“It’s imperative that we lend our seniors and persons with disabilities a helpful hand and provide them with the services they need,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “There are a number of valuable services available to our residents, and we want to make sure they can take advantage of the resources we provide.”
The joint initiative aims to survey a resident living in each of the 4,339 households in the BHA’s elderly/disabled public housing developments in the city by the end of July. Trained volunteers will ask a series of questions to identify the service needs of the household; following the surveys, the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly will then follow up with individualized referrals to insure that the needed services are being provided. Surveys will be conducted at individual sites on a scheduled basis for the next several months.
“We’re pleased to begin the resident phase of this initiative,” said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle. “We very much look forward to having conversations with our residents who are elderly and disabled; we want to hear what they have to say and to ensure they are getting what they need to have a good quality of life.”
The program came about as a response to staffing and budget reductions in 2013. In May of last year, the BHA eliminated its Resident Services program for elderly/disabled residents as a result of deep federal budget cuts. Going forward, the BHA joined in partnership with the Commission on Affairs of the Elderly to better explore the needs of its elderly and disabled residents and to insure that residents were better connected to the various resources in the community that will meet those needs for them.
In order to assist with this effort, an Elderly and Disabled Housing Service Committee was created by the Mayor in June 2013. The Committee included experts in public housing management, service delivery to elders and persons with disabilities, resident organizing, affordable housing law, private sector affordable housing management, and affordable housing policy. In addition, the Committee included two residents of BHA elderly and disabled housing. The Committee was charged with:
- Assessing the needs and structure of resident service coordination at BHA,
- Reviewing nationwide best practices of resident support and service coordination in elderly and disabled housing, and
- Creating recommendations for implementation in BHA Elderly and Disabled Housing.
The Committee will be providing recommendations to Mayor Walsh in several months.