By Seth Daniel
Social service agencies typically have very little time to fight a turf war, but recently CAPIC found itself having to pause from helping the homeless and addicted communities to defend itself against the expansion of a large Boston agency.
Social service agencies are typically officially assigned to regions, cities or areas by state regulation so as to prevent duplication of scarce resources or to prevent competition among agencies.
In Chelsea, CAPIC is the official provider and has been for quite some time.
CAPIC also holds contracts with the City in order to implement and maintain an innovative program to provide on-demand services to the homeless and addicted community in Bellingham Square. The agency has been working tirelessly in the area for about one year, and keeping statistics of those they’ve served and the outcomes.
So it was quite a surprise this month when a van began parking around Chelsea to offer the same services from Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), the huge service agency from Boston that expanded into Everett when the Tri-Cap service agency closed down.
“What happened a couple of months ago is the state decided to expand,” said Bob Repucci of CAPIC. “That internal expansion in one area of state government included Chelsea and Revere. What happened is ABCD saw and came into Chelsea and Revere with a mobile service van to provide services to homeless folks. What they did not do is check with any local officials or with (CAPIC) to see what we were doing in the area. It appears they thought there were no programs in Chelsea, Revere or Winthrop for homelessness. Now, CAPIC has been doing that here for 50 years and is the premiere organization for doing that.”
Councillor Leo Robinson said he was keyed into the van right away as people became confused. Police officers thought it was CAPIC, but saw ABCD on the van. He said developing a rapport with the addicted and homeless is long-term work, and having another agency come in without warning could disrupt the work that has been done – and skew the statistics.
“As a local official, this really concerns me that people would just come into our community without notifying any officials,” he said. “My concern is why are they doing it when those same services are already being provided by the City and CAPIC.”
Repucci said it was disappointing to see a fellow agency move in without notice. However, he said he plans to sit down with state leaders and the state delegation to sort the situation out very soon.
“The idea at the state level is to have no duplication of services,” he said. “That’s precisely what it represented in Chelsea and Revere – a duplication of services. There is enough need for everyone, but if we’re doing it here, maybe others should go where it’s not being done. I’m going to be encouraging our delegation and the state to pay attention to what’s going on and any funding ABCD is getting for Chelsea and Revere should be coming here.”