Emergency Assistance for Unsheltered Families

Faced with an overwhelmed Emergency Assistance program, communities throughout the State are struggling to function with limited permanent housing and no available shelter options. In December, United Way met with representatives from the City of New Bedford, SouthCoast Health, and service providers to address the unprecedented numbers of families living in places such as cars, the hospital’s emergency room, encampments, and other uninhabitable locations.

Thanks to supplemental funding from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, United Way was able to act immediately and direct aid to unsheltered families with the help of many community partners, including the New Bedford Homeless Service Providers Network. Collaboratively, this group created a mechanism for unsheltered families living outdoors to find a safe place to sleep. The intention of the program is to respond to families in crisis rapidly irrespective of the day of the week or hour of the day. United Way’s Family Resource & Development Center, PACE, and Steppingstone work together to identify families without housing options and secure a temporary place for them. Coordinated Entry, through the Community Counseling of Bristol County, then steps in to help secure a spot in a shelter or find permanent housing for each family.

At the same time, United Way’s Family Resource and Development Center is proactively working to keep families in their homes and avoid eviction by connecting them to community resources and providing support through the Help United fund.

While the solution to the overwhelmed Emergency Assistance program and the acute housing crisis is likely years away, today, United Way and our community partners are helping families manage a very difficult situation.