United Way of Massachusetts Bay Awards SafetyNet Shelter Grant to La Colaborativa

Special to the Record

United Way of Massachusetts Bay last week announced that La Colaborativa has been awarded a Safety Net Shelter grant to establish a day services shelter to provide case management and wraparound services through a compassionate, trauma-informed lens to the families being sheltered at the state-operated Cambridge overflow shelter and members of the Chelsea community. The grant was awarded as part of the SafetyNet Shelter Grant Program announced last fall by the Healey-Driscoll Administration in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay. Situated at La Colaborativa’s new headquarters at 318 Broadway, the walk-in day services shelter is expected to open on Tuesday, February 20.  It will accommodate up to 200 individuals on a daily basis. La Colaborativa will arrange transportation for families being sheltered at the state-operated Cambridge overflow site. The day services center will operate five days a week, from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Intentionally designed to offer culturally familiar, inclusive services, the day services center will offer families and individuals a safe, welcoming daytime space, as well as basic essentials such as coordination of food assistance, hygiene items, infant supplies, clothing, and other basic household necessities. La Colaborativa will coordinate the provision of culturally familiar breakfast, lunch and snacks, with an eye toward nutrition.  Notably, La Colaborativa will employ an innovative, trauma-informed model of comprehensive wrap-around services, with the goal of stabilizing families. Case managers on site will work with clients to provide economic, immigration and housing services, such as preparation of applications for housing programs, immigration support and intensive economic mobility services, including aiding clients in obtaining work authorization filings, providing job readiness programming, and connecting households to employment opportunities.  Moreover, through La Colaborativa’s comprehensive model , case managers will act as systems navigators, assisting clients accessing public benefits, mental health services, and healthcare systems.  “As we’re facing an unprecedented state of emergency, it’s critical that all residents have access to safe, dignified shelter, especially over the frigid winter months,” announced Gladys Vega, CEO of La Colaborativa. “Recognizing the countless lives at risk, we’re grateful to collaborate with the United Way and Healey-Driscoll Administration to deploy our unique, trauma-informed model of providing a culturally familiar, welcoming day center with comprehensive housing, economic, and wraparound services, which are vital to the wellbeing of homeless families.” “This new SafetyNet Shelter partnership with La Colaborativa will provide opportunities to address the multifaceted issues confronting new arrivals and families confronting homelessness,” said Bob Giannino, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way of Massachusetts Bay.  “A longstanding lifeline for immigrant populations and residents of Chelsea, these funds will expand and enhance the capacity of La Colaborativa to provide critical day services for families, expediting exits of families from shelter systems and helping to enable them to stabilize and contribute to our economy and communities as quickly as possible.” Founded in 1988, La Colaborativa is a Latina-led organization that has been a steady, trusted, and fearless partner to Latinx immigrants in Greater Boston, with a focus on gateway cities and towns such as Chelsea, East Boston, Everett, Lynn, Revere, and Malden. The organization works in partnership with Latinx immigrants to design and deliver an array of programs, initiatives, and community organizing campaigns that serve, protect, celebrate, and uplift our people. To date, the United Way SafetyNet Shelter grant program has launched eight overnight and daytime sites. The application for the SafetyNet Shelter grant program that is administered by the United Way. It supports prospective community gathering spaces with restrooms and heat, such as places of worship, community centers, and school buildings, to provide safe space for families to find short-term, congregate shelter, meals and other basic necessities, and linkages to other supportive community resources such as housing programs, public benefits, health services, and mental health supports. Non-congregate models will also be considered. The flexible SafetyNet Shelter program will remain in place through the winter and spring, adapting to conditions, needs, and opportunities that arise. The program aims to flexibly build the capacity of diverse community-based organizations and collaboratives to support families without safe and stable housing, with a particular interest in those with the cultural and linguistic competence and community connections that most contribute to the long-term well-being and community integration of families.

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