HCN News & Notes

USI Backpack Project Helps Clients of MHA’s Tenancy Preservation Program

SPRINGFIELD — September means back-to-school supplies, and that means a new set of financial challenges for families who are already struggling. Too often, not having an alternative, families will use money that has been set aside to pay rent in order to prepare their children for their return to school.

“Unfortunately, we see it happen every year,” said Jenni Pothier, MHA’s Tenancy Preservation Program director. “In September and again during the holidays, we experience very significant spikes in the numbers of families facing eviction. Parents want to give their children every resource they need to be successful, but in doing so it can put a family face to face with homelessness.”

So when Cindy Miner, PRS group manager with USI in West Springfield, reached out to Kim Lee, MHA’s vice president of Resource Development and Branding, for ideas for the company’s USI Gives Back Day, school supplies came immediately to mind.

“When our phone rang, we couldn’t believe just how perfect their timing was,” said Lee. “USI has a history of generously giving back, and we were so honored to have been thought of. Their kindness is so incredibly needed and appreciated.”

According to Miner, “at USI, we are proud of the deep roots we have in our communities. With agency offices dating back over 100 years in their local neighborhoods, our teams have a passion for getting involved and helping others who are in need. USI associates give their time, talent, and treasure across the country through USI Gives Back, where each of the company’s more than 150 offices participate in local community service during the year.”

More than 50 brand new backpacks were purchased and filled with supplies by the employees at USI’s West Springfield office.

MHA’s Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP) serves the communities of Hampden, Hampshire, and Franklin counties and is designed to preserve housing and prevent homelessness for households that are low-income and have one or more family member with disabilities that might include mental illness, developmental disability, intellectual disability, substance use, issues related to aging, brain injuries, and other conditions causing cognitive limitations.

So far this year, TPP has served 167 households consisting of 301 individuals, 129 of them children.

TPP Clinical Case Coordinators provide a comprehensive wrap-around approach, assessing the problems that led to eviction proceedings, working with tenants and landlords to put services in place to remedy lease violations, coordinating treatment as needed, providing support to tenants, and monitoring each household for a period of one year to assure that the housing situation is stabilized. It also provides clinical expertise to the housing courts.