Somerville Homeless Coalition, Inc.

Support. Housing. Community.

aka Somerville Homeless Coalition   |   Somerville, MA   |  www.shcinc.org

Mission

The Mission of the Somerville Homeless Coalition is to provide homeless and near homeless individuals and families with individualized supportive services and tailored housing solutions with a goal of obtaining and maintaining affordable housing. We advance this mission each day through our emergency response initiatives that include Street Outreach to the unsheltered, Individual and Family Homeless Shelters, and Project SOUP Food Program. Other programming promotes sustainable solutions through a combination of services, such as comprehensive housing search and case management; homeless prevention assistance; and, the provision of affordable housing that is paired with ongoing one-on-one home-based stabilization services that promote stability and tenancy preservation.

Ruling year info

1987

Executive Director

Mr. Michael Libby

Main address

PO Box 440436

Somerville, MA 02144 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

04-2897447

NTEE code info

Temporary Shelter For the Homeless (L41)

Homeless Services/Centers (P85)

Food Banks, Food Pantries (K31)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The most serious community need impacting the very-low to moderate income population is the overwhelmingly high cost burden facing local residents--in particular, housing costs. Research indicates that one in ten families in Somerville is currently living below the poverty level, comprising more than 13,000 residents. The combination of the city’s geographic location, fast growing neighboring economies, and extremely low vacancy rates has made the cost of housing a major cost burden for the community’s very-low to moderate income population. High housing costs are attributed to expensive asking rents, lack of units affordable to lower income groups and high initial start-up costs. Compounding that dissonance, the median rent in Somerville ($1,673) is twice the national median rent. Further, governmental support for such households is limited, with Federal Section 8 housing vouchers in short supply, and other rental subsidy programs (e.g. Mass Rental Voucher Program) underfunded for the need. Another significant contributing factor is an inadequate supply of affordable housing, which is an increasingly acute problem in Somerville as property values and rents rise well above the state average. Many households at-risk for becoming homeless are "cost-burdened," meaning that they are paying more than 50% of their income on rent. Because affordable housing is so scarce, it is especially important to keep families who have housing in their homes. The financial cost, for the State, to have families enter the shelter system can cost up to $36,000 a year (and Massachusetts has a constitutional mandate for Right To Shelter), and the physical, mental and emotional costs are also great.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Emergency Services

Shelters

Our Family Shelter is the only emergency family shelter in Somerville. It has up to 20 beds, serving five families at any given time. Similarly, our Adult Shelter has 16 beds for individuals. Open and staffed 24 hours-a-day, 365 days-a-year, the shelters are designed to meet the critical needs of local families and individuals who are in crisis due to homelessness.

We offer an immediate safe alternative to the streets and other unsafe living conditions, such as domestic violence and trauma situations. Our shelters allow local households to remain close to their support networks and keep children in their own schools, preventing them from being uprooted from their friends, families, health services and education networks. Other resources we offer include support services designed to assist in enhancing our clients’ self-sufficiency—including housing search, case management, and on-going housing stabilization services. While both of our shelters considered “emergency” shelters, we are committed to having our guests stay with us as long as necessary for them to achieve favorable outcomes, such as transitioning to independent living. The goal for our clients is to move out of homelessness and into housing. Annually, our shelters collectively serve approximately 75 people and provide over 13,000 bed nights.

Street Outreach

Our Street Outreach team identifies the location of those staying outside, engage them, and immediately help to address their most basic needs for food and water; proper clothing; appropriate sleeping gear; and, accessories (e.g. hand warmers, sunblock, etc.) that will protect them from the elements. On any given night, approximately 25 or more people are living on the streets of our neighborhoods, staying in local encampments, and sleeping in cars or other places not meant for human habitation. Through our consistent interactions we have been able to slowly develop trusting working relationships with those folks--this is remarkable considering a hallmark feature of the unsheltered homeless population is its unwillingness, for any host of reasons, to seek out help from traditional systems of care. Our strategy and our efforts have proved successful in many respects. Not only have we successfully engaged many people staying outside, but this has resulted in them seeking out and accepting help--the first step in what is always a delicate process when working with a population that has experienced severe forms of trauma.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Rapid Response:
The Rapid Response Program makes targeted financial grants to applicants at-risk of becoming homeless due to overdue rent or utilities, usually as a result of a sudden financial crisis. At an average cost of $1,000 per household, this program is the most economical response to homelessness, by keeping people in their current housing rather than incurring the expense of transitioning into and then out of a shelter, as well as the emotional cost of the trauma of becoming displaced.

Prevention and Stabilization Program:
Our Prevention and Stabilization Services (PASS) program provides rental assistance to homeless people who are getting re-housed and those at-risk of becoming homeless. Qualified applicants receive a housing subsidy (12-24 months), as well as case management. This program fills an urgent need as rents in the Greater Boston area continue to escalate and government assistance programs contract.

In 2019, we prevented 71 people from becoming homeless, including 37 children.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Our Supportive Housing Program provides much needed access to affordable housing for those living in poverty. In particular, our specialized program not only provides safe housing, but we seek out the most vulnerable homeless individuals and families among us, all of whom have some disabling conditions, move them into one of our furnished apartments and provide them with ongoing home-based tenancy stabilization services. While the federal government measures success in the number of months that a person is housed, we have tenants who have been housed for up to 15 years with SHC--a tremendous accomplishment. Much of this success is due in part to the core defining feature of this housing program--comprehensive one-on-one support provided by SHC’s supportive housing team. Essentially, our staff serve as life coaches for our clients. Our team members meet with clients in their homes one to two times a week, depending upon the need, and work on connecting them with health insurance, primary care physicians, substance use services, mental health counselors, food pantries, discounted transportation passes, disability benefits, job training, employment opportunities, services to resolve outstanding legal issues, basic household budgeting, etc.

We currently have 166 formerly homeless people, including 30 children, living in our housing program.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Each week many clients contact us, seeking help to obtain permanent housing. Our case managers recognize that whether clients are living on the streets, staying in a halfway house, or languishing in a shelter, each individual and family has a unique set of circumstances that led to their homelessness. Looking at each client individually and holistically, case managers work to address the barriers preventing them from securing a place to call home. Individual service plans include housing search strategies, identifying income enhancement opportunities, securing public benefits, increasing financial literacy, receiving connections to medical and behavioral health specialists, repairing credit histories, getting hooked up with legal assistance, reaching education goals and obtaining employment. Case management provides critical support to people, including those with serious disabilities, to help them overcome huge barriers and obstacles, such as poor landlord references, criminal records and bad credit, to obtain safe and affordable housing.

During 2019, case managers worked with 93 people in 70 households. 37% of them moved into permanent housing.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Families

Since 1969, Project SOUP (Share Our United Pantry), also known as New England's first free supper program, has provided food and other resources to hungry residents of Somerville and beyond. Somerville Homeless Coalition took over the operating of Project SOUP in 1996. In 2012, the acquisition of a walk-in freezer/cooler greatly enhanced the variety and quality of food available through our food pantry, adding fresh produce and dairy to the non-perishable staples. Our two local food pantries (located in East Somerville and West Somerville) and regular home delivery of groceries help meet the nutritional needs of individuals, families, elderly, disabled, and our home-bound neighbors. Our Monday night community dinner and monthly Come-to-the-Table meal offer a warm meal in a friendly and supportive atmosphere that offers companionship for our often isolated population. Staff also help clients apply for other benefits, such as WIC and food stamps/SNAP. Working with local agencies, students and volunteers, we also run a Food Recovery Network, identifying sources of good food that would otherwise go to waste (such as grocery stores and farmers markets), collecting it, and distributing it to food delivery outlets, such as our food pantry and other programs.

During 2019, SOUP fielded nearly 6,000 visits and distributed over 20,000 packages of food benefitting almost 3,500 people, including 1,250 children. During the COVID crisis, Project SOUP experienced a 91% increase in demand and has sustained meeting that level of need between March and October of 2020. Additionally, in response to an increased need for food deliveries due to the pandemic, SOUP has increased the number of monthly deliveries from 25 to nearly 200!

Population(s) Served
Families
Adults

Where we work

Awards

A Call to Action 2012

Somerville Martin Luther King Jr

Community Partner of the Year 2012

United Way of Mass Bay

Powderhouse Award Non Profit of the Year 2014

Somerville Chamber of Commerce

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Average number of service recipients per month

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Numbers do not include Project SOUP which serves hundreds of households with a varying number of dependents accessing food services per month.

Number of homeless participants engaged in housing services

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Homeless people

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Decreasing

Number of people no longer living in unaffordable, overcrowded housing as a result of the nonprofit's efforts

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Outcome - describing the effects on people or issues

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our Vision is to help people gain access to permanent housing that is safe and affordable; utilize our emergency shelters as a triage, assessment and short-term stabilization resource; utilize our case management services and prevention resources to help people live as independently as possible and minimize the need for costly emergency systems of care; and to build alliances and collaborate with organizations that provide affordable housing.

Our Values include treating all people with dignity and respect, always with the understanding that we are part of one community; taking on a leadership role in the community when it comes to advocating for homeless people and those at-risk; and incorporating innovative approaches and best practices in the implementation of our programs and services.

Guided by our mission, vision and values, after 35 years of providing critical services, resources and housing, SHC has far outgrown its original mandate and now serves a much broader constituency with a much wider array of support. As such, the Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC) has initiated a rebranding process. The goal of this initiative is to accurately define the full scope and nature of SHC’s work. In the middle 1980’s, at its inception, the agency was only serving Somerville residents and sheltering homeless individuals. Today, we assist many beyond our original city limits, we help hundreds of families each year, we have a food service program that benefits thousands, and we provide an array of housing resources, such as permanent supportive housing and homelessness prevention assistance. Another goal of SHC is to continually evolve as an agency by pivoting and responding to the ever changing internal and external environments. As best practices change and evolve, such as the models of housing-first, harm reduction, and motivational interviewing, SHC continues to adopt those concepts and implement them in our everyday practices.

The Somerville Homeless Coalition is committed to preventing people from falling into homelessness, providing supportive services to clients living on the street, in a shelter, or in permanent housing to ensure their stability, and making sure nobody goes hungry in our community.

SHC advances its mission by: 1) preventing people from becoming homeless in providing financial assistance targeting rent and utility arrears; 2) providing support and hands-on assistance to help homeless people address their unique obstacles; and, conducting comprehensive housing search leading to affordable housing; 3) providing emergency shelter for families and individuals who have no other place to live and reaching out to and engaging with those living on our streets; 4) housing and providing critical stabilization support to disabled homeless families and adults, focusing on those that are chronically homeless as well as the newly homeless vulnerable young adult population; and, 5) operating emergency food pantries, delivering groceries to the homebound, and serving community meals to those isolated within our communities.

Each year our supportive housing program houses and stabilizes approximately 175 formerly homeless people. Our housing search team places over 25 households into permanent housing each year. Our shelters, always at 100% capacity, care for 80 to 100 people annually. Over the past year, our food pantry, Project SOUP, experienced a 20% increase in visits and distributed over 21,000 bags filled with nutritionally balanced food items. Most striking is that Project SOUP, with the recent onset of COVID-19, was inundated in March 2020 with a 90% increase; in the months since March, Project SOUP went from an average of 20 home deliveries per month, to nearly 200 monthly home deliveries. As the recession deepens and the economy stalls, the demand will only climb higher and higher. As other pantries around us shutter their doors, we have committed to staying open.

In our community, we have also created coalitions among various organizations as a way to increase awareness of the ongoing issue of lack of access to affordable housing and nutritional food. By educating our community on the unmet needs of our clients, we hope to continue developing relationships with individuals, businesses, and foundations for private donations that allow us to provide our robust services and support to our clients.

Much of SHC’s ability to accomplish its goals lies in having a robust team that’s able to effectively meet the needs of our clients and community. We are a team of about 30 people, including eight full-time senior staff members who oversee everything from Development to our various Programs and Shelter; we have three full-time and one part time Supportive Housing staff; two full-time Coordinated Entry staff; two full-time Eviction Prevention staff; a full-time Outreach Coordinator working with clients living on the street; and a team of 13 among our shelter services. As the needs for our services continue to increase, by approximately 15-20% each year, we are also growing our staff, so as to ensure that we are never turning anyone away.

As a team, we are always looking for ways to build coalitions in our community that help us work on systemic change and justice for all of our clients. The Somerville Food Security Coalition (SFSC) brings providers together as a way to collaborate and raise awareness about vital food services and resources available in the community, particularly important during the COVID pandemic. The group works to maximize the impact of existing food security efforts and create efficiencies to bring local residents healthy, accessible, affordable, and a variety of culturally appropriate food items. The Somerville Homeless Coalition (SHC), a co-founder of the group over a decade ago, continues to play an important role in these efforts.

Additionally, we are active locally, heading up the Somerville/Arlington Continuum of Care, and partnering with the Somerville Community Corporation on housing and supporting chronically homeless families and individuals. We also work closely with the City of Somerville Office of Housing Stability and the Community Action Agency of Somerville on preventing homelessness. Regionally, we collaborate with Homes for Families, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance and the Coalition for Homeless individuals. Lastly, federally, we work with our legislators to craft and support legislation to expand the safety net and create the housing that can end homelessness.

SHC has been fighting homelessness, eviction and food insecurity for 35 years, and each year we have increased our services. In 2019, we served a total of 3,871 individuals across our programs. In 2019 we prevented 71 evictions through our Rapid Response program. With the onset of the COVID19 pandemic, we saw a 91% increase in the needs for our services. Despite the shutdowns across the nation, we kept our doors open, increasing our shelter services to operating 24 hours a day. We have continued to provide PPE to our clients and those living on the streets who may otherwise not have access. We know we will continue to see an increase in the demands for our services, and we are working to expand our services so as to be able to meet that demand head on.

Our team is committed to supporting our clients and community and working towards equal access to affordable housing and nutritious food for everyone. As an agency we work every day to address both the basic needs and to find sustainable, permanent solutions to the problems our clients face. We will continue to advocate for the vulnerable and marginalized in our community. By seeking partners from across a variety of industries who are willing to advocate for us, and collaborating with similar organizations, we create a robust coalition in fighting homelessness, eviction and food insecurity. Together, we can succeed in finding everyone a home.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Paper surveys, Program constituent community meetings.,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    Beverly conducting client equity study. Increased language in staff and written materials as ways to increase equity in the services. Increase accessibility and decrease barriers to our services.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our staff,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome,

Financials

Somerville Homeless Coalition, Inc.
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

Somerville Homeless Coalition, Inc.

Board of directors
as of 5/3/2021
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Jeffrey Bernstein

Community Volunteer

George Drugas

Community Volunteer

Tom White

Community volunteer

Jeffrey Bernstein

Community volunteer

Adam Hornstine

Community Volunteer

Deborah Morgan

Community Volunteer

Serena Taylor

Community Volunteer

Peter Butkus

Community Volunteer

Joshua Jackson

Community Volunteer

Tom Matthews

Community Volunteer

Tina Caruso

Community Volunteer

Margaret Vasquez

Community Volunteer

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/20/2020,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data

Equity strategies

Last updated: 10/20/2020

Policies and practices developed in partnership with Equity in the Center, a project that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems within the social sector to increase racial equity. Learn more

Data
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.