For the Brookline Housing Authority (BHA), providing secure, stable housing isn’t just about keeping a roof over someone’s head. It’s about giving everyone opportunities to thrive. “Housing is the foundation on which people build and improve their lives economically, health-wise, socially, and educationally,” says BHA CEO Michael Alperin. So when the pandemic upended integral support systems like housing, school, and health care, the BHA team was determined to ensure no one lost access to vital supports.
“Last year, when COVID hit, we had to look at the immediate needs of residents and deepen collaborations with our partners to meet those needs,” says Danielle Mendola, Director of Resident Services. Together with community partners, the BHA team worked to connect residents with crucial resources such on-site food pick-ups, reusable masks, vaccine clinics, Internet, rental assistance, mental health support, and more. BHA staff even managed to coordinate delivering donated Thanksgiving meals to BHA residents. “While we couldn’t gather in person, I’m proud we continued the tradition of BHA hosting Thanksgiving. It shows their resolve and dedication.”
Beyond this vital immediate support, BHA is also supporting residents in identifying and achieving their future financial and housing goals. Because public housing calculates rent based on income, pay increases result in rent increases. That added expense can make it harder to build financial security. But in April 2021, BHA launched their Self-Sufficiency Program, which allows residents living in public housing to accrue escrow savings as their incomes increase, and work with coaches to plan for their financial goals. “This is a tremendous opportunity to support residents who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” Danielle Mendola explained. “It also represents a step toward building generational wealth that can transform the trajectory of entire families.”
Despite the challenges of this year, Michael says the collaboration has been inspiring. “It takes partnerships to do this work well. It’s been a bright spot in a challenging year to see everyone roll up their sleeves to better the lives of BHA residents.