ServiceNet Named On-Site Provider for Emergency Family Shelter in Greenfield
ServiceNet was recently named the on-site provider for 41 families from across the Commonwealth who are receiving emergency shelter at the Days Inn in Greenfield.
These families are housed at the hotel due to a “critical shortage of affordable housing in the state,” according to Lieutenant Governor Kim Driscoll and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC). Many of the families are Haitian immigrants from the Boston area, while others are international refugees from other countries and families escaping domestic violence.
ServiceNet’s role as on-site provider is to assure the safety and privacy of these families and provide case management services, with primary focus on getting people re-housed. Case management services can also include working with immigration lawyers to help people get their green cards or work permits; identifying education and training needs; connecting to landlords and housing authorities in the communities where people wish to settle; connecting people to health care services; providing transportation to medical appointments; and coordinating meals delivered to the hotel from area vendors.
ServiceNet and city officials have already been working with Greenfield Public Schools, WIC, Community Action-Family Resource Center, and Center for New Americans to help with the families’ education and health care needs. Ascentria Care Alliance has sent two translators to assist ServiceNet full-time; city officials and the Opioid Task Force are helping to connect ServiceNet with a variety of community and faith-based groups; and ServiceNet is working with the non-profit, Stone Soup Café, and other food vendors to coordinate scheduling ethnically appropriate and diverse meals for the families.
“The outpouring of support for our new neighbors and community members has been inspiring, and we are truly grateful to Greenfield,” said Erin Forbush, director of ServiceNet’s Shelter and Housing Services. “We have heard from so many area residents who are eager to assist us in welcoming the families. And as we determine how best to utilize this positive energy, we’re asking that people please be patient with our team while we work around the clock to ramp up our staffing over the coming weeks and assess each family’s specific needs.”
This is not the first time ServiceNet has stepped into this emergency role. In 2014, ServiceNet worked to re-house more than 100 families who were temporarily placed in Greenfield hotels by the Department of Housing and Community Development (now named EOHLC). Many of these families were re-housed in eastern Massachusetts, where they had previously lived.
Marisa Perez, who served as a case manager for the emergency rehousing project in 2014, is program director of the present operation. Perez and her family came through the family shelter in Greenfield over a decade ago before finding housing. She first began working for ServiceNet as a translator at the same family shelter, eventually took on the role of case manager, and has since been program director for several shelter programs.
While ServiceNet’s emergency family shelter contract with the state does not officially start until July 1, Perez and the shelter team began working at the Days Inn as soon as the selection was decided.
“This isn’t just a job for me; it’s my passion,” said Perez. “I care deeply for each family and individual I work with and am dedicated to ensuring their health, safety, and long-term success. These families deserve dignity and respect in every aspect of their lives as they go through a challenging transition to find permanent housing.”
For the privacy and safety of residents, Perez asks that people interested in assisting or donating to the family shelter not come to the Days Inn.
Financial donations can be made via servicenet.org/donate.
A current list of needed in-kind donations can be found here. All donations should be dropped off at the public health department at 20 Sanderson St., Greenfield.
ServiceNet is also currently hiring case managers and shelter counselors (Haitian Creole, Spanish, French, and/or Portuguese speakers encouraged to apply). If you are interested in being a part of the shelter team, please visit ServiceNet’s employment section.