Improving Housing to Improve Health

The IH2 Project is a five year grant funded by the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds, which seeks to answer the question: How can members of the Franklin County/North Quabbin Community Health Improvement Plan Network change our region’s policies and systems to improve access to stable housing for people with a history of incarceration and substance misuse so they can live healthier lives?

graphic depiction of the project

Our project identifies and addresses specific barriers to equity in housing access for people at a number of different policy, systems, and environment levels, broken into six domains:

Domain 1: Building Community Engagement and Impacting Housing Policy

IH2 project partners are guided by an Advisory Board of people with lived experience of incarceration and/or substance misuse. The Advisory Board’s input helps reduce harmful policies in private housing, improved standardization of policy implementation in public housing, improved municipal policy, and reduced paperwork and systems barriers at partner organizations.
Contact: Jen Audley, FRCOG

Domain 2: Creation and Implementation of Municipal Abandoned Housing Policies.

We are working with local boards of health to inventory and prioritize abandoned properties that have potential to be redeveloped as affordable housing,  and work with the Attorney General’s Office to bring buildings into receivership. Our goal is that by 2024, municipal capacity to address abandoned housing in our region will increase in 8-10 municipalities, resulting in:

  • 8-10 completed inventories, including at least 100 units of housing.
  • 10-20 units of housing rehabilitated.
  • 5-10 units rehabilitated as affordable housing.

Contact: Kurt Schellenberg, FRCOG

Domain 3: Municipal Housing Policy Advocacy

 Staff of CHAPA  are working to support local housing coalitions to support increases in municipal affordable housing policy.  Our goal is that 4-5 towns will implement CPA-funded projects/programs and 3 towns adopt other housing policy changes during the grant period, as well as sustained community support and advocacy for housing access initiatives beyond the five-year grant period.
Contact: Dana LeWinter, Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA)

Domain 4:  Increasing Municipal Housing Policy Adoption

FRCOG  staff provide technical assistance to local land use boards and committees to support policy change to improve the municipal housing policy landscape in our region to improve access to affordable, stable housing for people with a history of incarceration and substance use treatment. Our goal is that by 2024, 4-5 towns with Community Preservation Act will dedicate CPA funding to increasing affordable housing access in their communities and 3 municipalities in the region will pass new housing policies that increase access for people with a history of substance misuse and/or incarceration.
Contact: Andrea Donlon, FRCOG

Domain 5:  Expand and focus legal services in the region, by providing legal interventions to help overcome barriers to safe, stable, and affordable housing caused by past substance use and/or incarceration.

The grant funds the first Re-Entry Attorney dedicated to assisting the people of Franklin County/North Quabbin.  Community Legal Aid’s Re-Entry Attorney provides legal assistance to  people facing legal barriers to housing and employment due to a history of criminal court involvement and/or substance and alcohol use disorder. In addition, CLA facilitates  know-the-law trainings for people currently incarcerated, formerly incarcerated people, people with a history of criminal court involvement, people with substance and alcohol use disorders, and for organizations that provide direct services to people facing these challenges.
Contact: Jen Dieringer, Community Legal Aid

Domain 6: Systems: Creation of a Franklin County/North Quabbin Housing Navigator Role for people with SUD and history of incarceration.

Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority (FCRHRA) used the grant funding to create the first local Housing Navigator position that provides landlord education and housing access help for people with a history incarceration or SUD. The Navigator reaches people by embedding in community settings when feasible, and through online events when not.
Contact: Amanda Watson, FCRHRA