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IH2 is a five-year grant-funded policy and systems change effort seeking answers to this question: How can we change our region’s policies and systems to improve access to affordable, stable housing, especially for people with a history of incarceration and substance misuse so they can live healthier lives?

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Improving Housing to Improve Health is a project of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) Network, supported by an award from the Massachusetts Community Health and Healthy Aging Funds. From 2020-2024, the FRCOG is partnering with Community Legal Aid, the Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority, and Citizens Housing and Planning Association and working towards outcomes in the domains cited below. Click here for a one-page visual showing the inter-related strands of the IH2 initiative.

IH2 partners provide regular updates at meetings of the Housing and Workforce Development Committee of the Opioid Task Force. For information, contact Jen Audley, CHIP Coordinator.

IH2 also supports a Small Town Housing workgroup. View the small Town Housing Workgroup page.

Cover of the 2020-2025 CEDS Plan

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

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

 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)

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

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

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



MA Attorney General’s Office Neighborhood Renewal Program (March 2022)
(W MA Public Health Association Power Hour Workshop on a state program that supports abandoned building renovation)

Diversifying Rural Housing Opportunities (October 2022)
Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) facilitated this session, which included a review local population and housing data and tools towns can use to intentionally undo racial and economic inequities.

Slides (PDF, 2 MB)

Jen Audley headshot.

Jen Audley

CHIP Coordinator


Andrea Donlon headshot.

Andrea Donlon

Sr. Land Use and Natural Resources Planner


Kurt Schellenberg headshot.

Kurt Schellenberg

Regional Health Agent


Phoebe Walker headshot.

Phoebe Walker

Director of Community Health



A Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) is a plan made for a set period of time (3-5 years), based on…

Housing plans identify the housing needs of a community and outline the strategies a town can take toward meeting those needs. In recent years the FRCOG has assisted the Towns…

Vacant and abandoned buildings can be a financial drain on towns, can pose health and safety issues for residents and…

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