Chelsea Inauguration 2018

Chelsea Inauguration 2018

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Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes leads the procession of City Council members to begin the Inauguration ceremonies on Tuesday night, Jan. 2, in the Council Chambers at City Hall. Meanwhile, outgoing Council President Leo Robinson is given a gavel by incoming Council President Damali Vidot. Vidot was sworn in as the first female Council President
since charter reform.

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The Finishing Touch

The Finishing Touch

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Marisa Yee, 6, painting on the ice at the Cronin Skating Rink during the first New Year’s Eve Paint & Skate event on Sunday afternoon, an event put on by the Chelsea Recreational and Cultural Division. The event was a great success and many Chelsea families enjoyed the afternoon.

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Standish Reflects on his Tenure at Housing Authority

Standish Reflects on his Tenure at Housing Authority

By Seth Daniel

In 2011, the Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) was in total disarray, and Chelsea resident Tom Standish had a long history of putting things back together.

As the chair of the CHA since 2011, putting things back together is exactly what Standish, the other Board members and the staff at CHA did in the wake of the Michael McLaughlin corruption scandal.

Now, with his work seemingly done and the CHA now a high-performer in the public housing world, Standish has stepped aside from his long-time role as chair of an organization that was quite literally brought back from the grave.

“It was a clear case of corruption and the need to restore normalcy to the government,” said Standish recently from his home on the waterfront, a few weeks after stepping down as chair. “Really, it was transparent that someone was controlling the situation and had everyone in line. There needed to be five people who had the strength of character and expertise to guide the CHA back to normalcy. As it turned out, we guided it to high performance.”

After the McLaughlin scandal, few thought that the CHA would ever be put back given the tangled web of accounting fraud and the money not expended on facilities for so long.

Tenants were angry.

The public was angry.

The federal government was angry.

Those five board members, led by Standish, helped restore the confidence.

Standish said he saw a posting about the City looking for talented people to serve on the new board – as the old board had been removed quickly on suspicion of corruption with McLaughlin. With a deep resume as a regulator in the Connecticut government and in other endeavors, he was chosen right off. At the first meeting, his other four colleagues quickly elected him as the chair when he voiced concern over the minutes from the previous meetings – challenging the Board’s attorney.

From there, the rebuilding took place, including the hiring of current CHA Executive Director Al Ewing – who had served previously in the CHA administration.

“It was our task to establish a route that would bring us to restoration of faith in the performance of the duties,” said Standish. “We went on the war path. We got the support of Al Ewing and he did a fabulous job of brining a fee accountant in and an accountant from outside to do an audit…That gave us a lot of confidence in Al. You can change a lot with a big organization if you can get competent, honest people. For me personally, that was a turning point in the organization.”

Another turning point, he said, was when they were able to get the full services of the Nixon Peabody law firm and Attorney Jeff Sacks to help them guide the case against McLaughlin on behalf of the CHA. That was also assisted by Charlestown attorney Susan Whalen, whom the CHA hired.

Standish said, through a mutual friend, he had heard that Nixon Peabody was looking for a case to work on pro bono that would make a difference. As it happened, that case was the CHA’s.

“They were going to pay for it 100 percent,” he said. “It wasn’t one of those where they said they would help us for 75 cents on the dollar. It was 100 percent…Susan Whalen in conjunction with Nixon Peabody were able to move the case forward and were able to get a decision.”

While the matter of McLaughlin’s $200,000 pension is still outstanding, and the McLaughlin matter still appears as a potential Executive Session item on every CHA meeting agenda – for the most part justice was done.

Standish said he was very relieved on the day McLaughlin was sentenced in Boston Federal Court, knowing that justice had been rendered for the tenants and the taxpayers. However, he said he was conflicted about the time and type of sentence – noting that he is glad he did not have to make a recommendation to the court.

“In the end, McLaughlin said he was just trying to keep up with his neighbors,” he said. “He said they all had nice cars and nice houses and he just wanted to keep up with them. It was a totally different McLaughlin than we had seen up to then.”

Overall, Standish said he would look back at his time on the CHA as something of a gift – a way he could give back, and in turn, be given to.

“I was energized by it,” he said. “There are a lot of people who run out and look to be fulfilled in life by making money, but try as they may, nothing is more fulfilling than giving to society…The thing that’s great for me is to see public housing work in Chelsea. I’ve come to realize that high-minded people make this world work. We have been a high-performer every single year since the first one. We worked very hard – many long hours and all uncompensated. It has been invigorating and exciting. I regard it as a gift to have had the opportunity.”

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Sen Elizabeth Warren Urges Congress to Restore Funding to Community Health Centers like EBNHC

Sen Elizabeth Warren Urges Congress to Restore Funding to Community Health Centers like EBNHC

By John Lynds

In an Op-Ed that appeared in State News on Monday, Dec. 18, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called House Republicans onto the carpet for halting federal funding to the nation’s Community Health Centers like East Boston Neighborhood Health Center (EBNHC) while working on cutting taxes for the ‘wealthy”.

“I love community health centers,” Warren wrote. “They do wonderful work and enjoy widespread support. But I’m worried because Republican leaders in Congress have held these centers hostage by halting federal funding while they focus on passing tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s past time to step up the fight for community health centers in my state of Massachusetts and across the country.”

Warren argued that community health centers, like EBNHC, are a big part of what’s working well in health care today — more coverage at lower cost.

“They are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic,” she wrote. “They provide preventive services and chronic disease management. They are taking the stigma out of mental health treatment. And they save money by promoting disease prevention, providing care coordination, and reducing the use of hospital emergency rooms.”

On Sept. 30, Warren said Congress blew past a major funding deadline for community health centers — a reauthorization of the Community Health Center Fund.

“This program provides more than 70 percent of all federal funding for health centers,” she wrote. “Reauthorizing this program should be a no-brainer, and many of my Republican colleagues agree with that. But Republican leadership has been so focused on stripping health care coverage from many of the people who walk through the doors of community health centers that they ran right past this deadline — and they’ve just kept on running.”

Community health centers across the country are feeling the impact.

“They are holding back on hiring new staff or deferring opportunities to make vital improvements to their programs. If they don’t get this funding soon, they’ll have to make even tougher decisions, like laying off staff members, cutting services, or reducing hours,” she wrote. “In East Boston, which is geographically isolated from the rest of the city, the community health center operates an emergency room that is open around the clock.People who work in community health centers know that health care is a basic human right. The dedicated doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals at these sites take incredible care of families from every background. And they’re always looking for ways they can better serve their patients and their community. But community health centers can’t do this much-needed work if the federal government doesn’t keep its promises.”

Warren said tax cuts for billionaires shouldn’t come ahead of making sure that children, pregnant women, people in need of addiction treatment, veterans, and other vulnerable populations have access to health care.

“I’ll keep fighting for community health centers and for all of these health care programs that have improved the lives of people in my state and every other state,” she wrote. “I believe everyone deserves access to affordable, high-quality health care. Community health centers excel at providing that care — and they deserve our support.”

EBNHC recently hosted Sen. Warren were she saw first hand the important work that the Health Center and its staff does on a daily basis.

“We were obviously so pleased to host Senator Warren on her visit tour to the Health Center and we are glad she is fighting hard for Community Health Centers like ours across the country,” said Snyder.

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Social Security Matters – When Should I Apply for Social Security?

Social Security Matters – When Should I Apply for Social Security?

By AMAC Certified Social Security Advisor Russell Gloor

Association of Mature American Citizens

Dear Rusty: I will be turning 62 in 2018; birth date 9/24/1955. My husband is 77 and receiving Social Security.  Longevity runs in my family. I have been self-employed all my life. I am still working and my husband collects a pension, Social Security and RMD from a traditional IRA, so there is no need for additional monies under my current circumstances. When should I start taking Social Security?   Signed:  Thinking about Retirement

Dear Thinking: The question of when to take Social Security normally gets an answer of “It depends on your health, your family history of longevity, and your need for the money”.  You’ve already addressed those items so I’ll focus on your main question – when should you start taking Social Security?

Even though you’ll be eligible to collect Social Security when you turn 62, if you do so you will only get 74.17% of the retirement benefit you would be entitled to at your full retirement age (FRA). Whenever you apply, you will be deemed to be filing not only for your own retirement benefit but also any spousal benefit you may be entitled to from your husband’s work record. Similar to your SS retirement benefit, your spousal benefit would also be reduced because you took it early; instead of being 50% of your husband’s benefit at your FRA, you would only get 35% at age 62 (if that is larger than your own retirement benefit). The point I’m making is that by claiming SS early, any benefit you’re entitled to will be reduced from what you would get at your full retirement age.

Just as you are penalized for claiming before your full retirement age, you are rewarded for waiting beyond it to claim Social Security retirement benefits. In fact, for each year you wait beyond your full retirement age, your retirement benefit will be 8% higher than it would be at your FRA. That will continue up until you are 70 years old when your retirement benefit will be 30.67% higher than it would have been at your FRA. You stop earning additional credit at age 70, so there’s no reason to wait beyond that to apply. Let’s use an easy example to illustrate: If your FRA retirement benefit is $1000, by applying at age 62 you would only get $741 per month instead of $1000. But if you wait until you are 70 to claim benefits, you would get $1306 per month, nearly twice what you would get by applying at age 62.

There are two other factors you should incorporate into your thinking:

1) At your FRA, you will be entitled to ½ of your husband’s benefit at his FRA.  If your spousal benefit at your FRA is substantially more than your own retirement benefit, then applying at your FRA may be a good strategy, as opposed to waiting and earning delayed retirement credits.

 2) Once you have reached your FRA you will be entitled to 100% of your husband’s benefit amount if he should predecease you. If your eventual survivor’s benefit would be more than your own FRA benefit amount, you might be better served by claiming your retirement benefit earlier than age 70.

As you can see, most of the answer to your question depends upon whether your benefits as a spouse or a survivor will be more than your benefit based upon your own work record. If not, then waiting beyond your FRA up to age 70 will yield you the maximum retirement benefit. But if your spouse and/or survivor’s benefit will be more than your own retirement benefits, then applying at your full retirement age may be the best strategy. If you haven’t already done so, I suggest you go to www.ssa.gov and set up your personal “My Social Security” account which will give you access to your currently estimated retirement benefit. Comparing that to your potential spousal and survivor benefits should give you the answer you’re seeking.

The information presented in this article is intended for general information purposes only. The opinions and interpretations expressed are the viewpoints of the AMAC Foundation’s Social Security Advisory staff, trained and accredited under the National Social Security Advisors program of the National Social Security Association, LLC (NSSA). NSSA, the AMAC Foundation, and the Foundation’s Social Security Advisors are not affiliated with or endorsed by the United States Government, the Social Security Administration, or any other state government. Furthermore, the AMAC Foundation and its staff do not provide legal or accounting services. The Foundation welcomes questions from readers regarding Social Security issues. To submit a request, contact the Foundation at info@amacfoundation.org.

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Remembering Beverly Nowicki as a Friend to All

Remembering Beverly Nowicki as a Friend to All

By Cary Shuman

St. Mary’s High School sophomore guard Christina Nowicki played in the Boverini Basketball Tournament in Lynn with a heavy heart, having lost her grandmother, Beverly Nowicki, who died on Dec. 27 after a long and courageous battle against illnesses.

Christina and her sister, Mia, a St. Mary’s 2017 graduate, a freshman at Assumption College and an All-Scholastic softball pitcher, each delivered beautiful remarks in memory of their beloved grandmother at the funeral Dec. 29 at the Welsh Funeral Home in Chelsea. Grandson John Paul Nowicki was also present at the memorial observance.

Paul Nowicki gave a heartfelt eulogy about his mother, who was a registered nurse and director of the Cottage Manor and On Broadway Nursing Homes in Chelsea.

Paul remembered how residents of the nursing home would often comment to him about the tremendous care his mother and her staff provided to the residents.

“It was overwhelming how much good she brought to everyone else,” related Paul.

Mrs. Nowicki and her husband, retired Chelsea firefighter Fred Nowicki, provided tremendous support and encouragement to Paul and his brother, Scott throughout their lives. Paul is undisputedly one of the greatest athletes in Chelsea history. He was a three-sport performer and two-sport All-Scholastic at Matignon High School and went on to earn a spot in the Division 1 Clemson University football program. Mr. and Mrs. Nowicki were at all their sons’ games beginning in Chelsea Little League and Chelsea Youth Hockey, humbly remaining in the background as Paul brought countless memories with his exploits on the field and in the rink, and the many individual awards he received.

“Scott and I always said that Mom was our  foundation,” said Paul. “Dad was the provider and the protector and mom was the foundation. Mom was everything to Scott and me and it is something that will never be replaced. In good times and bad times, mom was always there for both of us.’’

Speaking to his father, Paul noted, “As Mia and Christina said, your love for my mom, how you treated mom, how you provided for mom, how you protected mom – it inspires us every day and will continue to inspire us every day.”

Paul was elected as an alderman and city councillor in Chelsea and it was mother, a popular resident of the city and the daughter of Police Capt. Robert Renfrew, who organized those successful political campaigns.

Paul told the gathering how the doors of the family home were always open to family and friends, thanks to the warmth and kindness of his gracious mother, who made everyone feel welcomed at the Nowicki residence.

“It was always an open door at the house and there was no better time than Christmastime – mom and dad would host both sides of the family and then around 5 o’clock the doors would open and in come all the friends and those are the times I remember,” said Paul. “You realized you were a part of something bigger.”

Addressing his many friends, Paul said, “No matter when you came in to our lives, my mother always loved you guys because you were loyal to Scott and me and that meant a lot to us because my mom respected and liked you so much an that Scott and I made good decisions with our friends.”

In Beverly Nowicki, Chelsea has lost one of its most popular and well-known citizens. The children of Paul and Tracy Nowicki and the grandchildren of Fred Nowicki and Beverly Nowicki are carrying on the family’s legacy with their excellence in athletics, combined with their exemplary character, cordiality, and kindness.

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Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank Announce Their 2018 Commitment to Their Employees, Infrastructure and Charitable Giving

Meridian Bancorp, Inc. and East Boston Savings Bank Announce Their 2018 Commitment to Their Employees, Infrastructure and Charitable Giving

Meridian Bancorp, Inc. (the “Company” or “Meridian”) (NASDAQ: EBSB), the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank (the “Bank”), following the new tax law being passed by Congress and signed by the President on December 22, 2017, announced the following enhanced commitments to the Bank’s employees, infrastructure investment and charitable giving which will benefit its customers and the communities it serves:

  • The minimum wage for all employees will increase to $15 per hour
  • An additional 20% will be added to the 2017 bonus as part of the Bank’s Incentive Compensation Plan that will be paid to the Bank’s 500+ employees in January 2018
  • An increase to the Capital Spending Budget as a result of plans to build six new branch locations in 2018
  • An increase in charitable giving by targeting $1 million in donations to community and non-profit organizations in 2018

Richard J. Gavegnano, Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, said, “While our wage policy has consistently been higher than the state mandate of $11.00, the passing of the new tax law has provided the Bank the opportunity to boost its planned minimum wage hike and share those benefits with many of the employees our customers see every day. As a result, our Board of Directors voted to increase the Bank’s minimum wage to $15 per hour as well as increase the 2017 bonus that all employees are eligible to receive by 20%. It is our hope that this hourly wage increase and additional bonus commitment will attract and maintain employees and demonstrate the Bank’s commitment to invest in our workforce.”

According to Gavegnano, while the Bank continues to study the provisions of the new tax law, the Bank believes it is clear that this law supports the Bank’s long-term growth prospects and goals. “Our plan is to continue to branch out to areas in our marketplace that are not being serviced by a community bank. East Boston Savings Bank added two branch offices from our acquisition of Meetinghouse Bank in Dorchester and Roslindale, and in 2018 we will be adding branch locations in the Boston neighborhoods of Cleveland Circle and Brigham Circle as well as locations in West Peabody and Lynnfield. We will continue to research new branch opportunities and stimulate economic growth by providing local jobs and loans to help businesses and individuals thrive.”

Beyond banking, East Boston Savings Bank is committed to being a good neighbor by giving back to the communities we serve. “Each year the Bank makes contributions and/or donates a variety of items supporting community and local civic groups. Our employees volunteer their time for many meaningful causes. In 2018, the Bank and the East Boston Savings Bank Charitable Foundation are committing to make contributions of at least $1 million to well-deserving not-for-profit organizations.”

It is due to East Boston Savings Bank’s commitment to its employees and communities that the Bank was recognized by The Boston Globe as one of Massachusetts’ “Top Places to Work” in 2017. “In my experience, top workplaces are where people work well together while understanding that what they do is worthwhile.  There is no substitute for the hard work and great customer service that our employees consistently provide. Our employees understand what it means to go the extra mile for their customers. I’m proud of our employees and what we accomplish together,” said Gavegnano.

Meridian Bancorp, Inc. is the holding company for East Boston Savings Bank. East Boston Savings Bank, a Massachusetts- chartered stock savings bank founded in 1848, operates 33 full-service locations and one mobile location in the greater Boston metropolitan area. We offer a variety of deposit and loan products to individuals and businesses located in our primary market, which consists of Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk and Suffolk Counties, Massachusetts. For additional information, visit www.ebsb.com.

Forward Looking Statements

Certain statements herein constitute forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Such statements may be identified by words such as “believes,” “will,” “expects,” “project,” “may,” “could,” “developments,” “strategic,” “launching,” “opportunities,” “anticipates,” “estimates,” “intends,” “plans,” “targets” and similar expressions. These statements are based upon the current beliefs and expectations of Meridian Bancorp, Inc.’s management and are subject to significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from those set forth in the forward-looking statements as a result of numerous factors. Factors that could cause such differences to exist include, but are not limited to, general economic conditions, changes in interest rates, regulatory considerations, and competition and the risk factors described in the Company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q as filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Should one or more of these risks materialize or should underlying beliefs or assumptions prove incorrect, Meridian Bancorp, Inc.’s actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this release.

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Police Briefs 01-04-2018

Police Briefs 01-04-2018

ROBBERY ON BROADWAY

On Dec. 22, at 5:20 p.m., officers responded to 165 Walnut St. for a report of a past armed robbery. Upon officers’ arrival, they made contact with the victim and alleged robbery suspect, standing out front of the building. The victim claims the suspect took $200 from him after he left the ATM at the Chelsea Bank on Broadway. The suspect claims the money was used to buy drugs from him and that the victim complained about the quality of the drugs purchased.

Jose Rivera, 32, of 11 Congress Ave., was charged with unarmed robbery.

REFUSED SERVICE AT BAR

On Dec. 22, at 10:49 p.m., officers were dispatched to the Spanish Falcon Club located at 158 Broadway on the report of a fight outside.

Officers observed security outside speaking to a group of men, two of which appeared intoxicated. As Officers spoke to security, they were informed that the two intoxicated males had been causing a disturbance because security refused them entry due to their state of intoxication.

They were asked to leave several times, but were becoming aggressive towards employees. As officers engaged the men in conversation, it was apparent that the men were upset at having been refused entry and wanted to continue their night of drinking. The two men refused the officers’ orders to leave the area and became loud and boisterous, causing a disturbance. The first male was placed into custody after violently resisting officers in their attempt to place him under arrest. The second male, and brother of the male taken into custody, refused orders to leave, and he also became aggressive and was taken into custody after a struggle.

David Garcia, 24, of 141 Marlborough St., was charged with disorderly conduct.

Kevin Garcia, 21, of Lynn, was charged with disorderly conduct, assault and battery on a police officer and resisting arrest.

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From the FBI Building Opening to MS-13 Guilty Pleas,Chelsea was Full of News in 2017

From the FBI Building Opening to MS-13 Guilty Pleas,Chelsea was Full of News in 2017

By Seth Daniel

There were more than a few big news items in Chelsea this year.

In fact, there were too many to include in a review of the year in news as the city began to move faster and faster throughout the year.

Here is a sprinkling of some of the top news items from the Chelsea Record in 2017:

• Chelsea High students returned in January to a fly-free building. Student had missed a substantial amount of school in December due to a fly epidemic in Chelsea High. Work crews used the Winter Break to fix the problem.

• Chelsea the Sanctuary City was upended and scared for what the future might hold when new President Donald Trump issues an executive order in January to defund Sanctuary Cities. Chelsea and Lawrence quickly file a lawsuit to prevent the order from being acted upon. The order was later ruled unconstitutional by an Appeals Court on the West Coast.

• On Feb. 16, more than 41 businesses in the Broadway area close down for the day and more than 2,000 students are absent from Chelsea Public Schools during the national Day Without an Immigrant protest. The streets are eerily quiet in the normally bustling Broadway business district.

• The new FBI Boston headquarters holds its official ribbon cutting ceremony after having been open four months on March 7. Former FBI Director James Comey – then the director – was on hand to welcome Chelsea officials and regional law enforcement to the ceremony.

• The Homewood Suites Hotel and Function Room opens in March to the public and its owner, Colwen Hotels, pulls a building permit in the same month to begin construction on a new hotel on Broadway at the Revere/Chelsea line. The hotel continues to be under construction.

• A Chelsea Housing Authority (CHA) plan to redevelop the Central Avenue housing development with private developer Corcoran is shot down by a vote of the City Council on April 24 due to Corcoran asking to be permitted to use some non-union workers on the job. An amended plan for the development is expected in 2018.

• The Chelsea Police and community/business leaders launch a new Downtown Task Force on May 1. Four beat officers have been assigned to the Broadway corridor and will meet with residents, City departments and business owners once a week.

• Scores of MS-13 members from Chelsea and surrounding areas – including multiple admitted murderers – begin to plead guilty to charges against them in Boston Federal Court. By year’s end, 27 of 61 individuals indicted in the three-year investigation have plead guilty.

• A huge debate breaks out over the summer in the midst of the Re-Imagining Broadway initiative about whether Broadway should become a two-way street in the business district. The matter has not been settled as of yet. It has been one-way for more than 50 years.

• Gov. Charlie Baker commits to funding a new $199 million Quigley Hospital at the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home during a press conference in May. Later in the summer, the plan draws major controversy when it is revealed that the Chelsea Soldiers’ Home water tower must come down to make way for the new hospital. The water tower is seen as a symbol of the City for many.

• In another blow to tradition, the historic Chelsea Clock building on Everett Avenue comes down in October to make way for more than 700 units of apartment dwellings.

• Chelsea High School graduates 309 students on June 11 at commencement. It is the largest class in more than 15 years.

• Three incumbent councillors announce before summer recess that they will not run for re-election. They include Dan Cortell, Matt Frank and Paul Murphy.

• Chelsea Jewish Nursing Home on Lafayette Street celebrates a $16 million renovation project on June 21 with a huge ribbon cutting celebration.

• The Chelsea Fire Department gets a federal SAFER grant to add eight new members to the Fire Department. It adds to two new positions already committed to by the City. The 10 new firefighters are sworn in on Nov. 20. It is the largest expansion of the Fire Department contingent since receivership in the 1990s.

• Outdoor seating on Broadway is approved for area establishments. The new Ciao Market leads the way by putting a seating area on the sidewalk in Chelsea Square – a pioneering move for the City.

• The MassDOT Board approves a plan for major, multi-year rehabilitation work on the Mystic/Tobin Bridge and the Chelsea Viaduct. A vigorous debate over construction impacts and the scope of the project ensues between MassDOT and City officials.

• A group of Chelsea stakeholders and City officials announce that the City has won the Robert Wood Johnson Culture of Health Prize at a Sept. 20 Chamber of Commerce meeting. The victory comes after nearly a year of planning, submissions and site visits. It comes with a $25,000 cash prize and a substantial amount of cache.

• CAPIC human services celebrates 50 years as a service provider in Chelsea, Winthrop and Revere. The Chelsea-based organization celebrates with a grand gala that united new and old members of the organization.

• The community rallies around families, friends and strangers facing catastrophe in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hits the island in the fall. Many residents flock to the Chelsea Collaborative to work in the relief efforts as a way of coping with the stress of not hearing from relatives.

• Three new councillors are elected to the City Council in the Nov. 7 City Election, including Calvin Brown, Bob Bishop and Joe Perlatonda. All three, however, have served previously on the City Council or former Board of Aldermen.

• The MBTA announces in December that most Silver Line Stations are nearing completion and service on the new Bus Rapid Transit line could begin as soon as April 2018. The new line will be known a SL3 and will go from the Market Basket Mall to the Seaport, via Logan Airport.

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Housing Program Helps Families Survive Crisis Without Turning to Shelters

Housing Program Helps Families Survive Crisis Without Turning to Shelters

By Seth Daniel

The Metro Housing Boston organization reported this month that their transition assistance program for families in crisis helped 70 families in Chelsea with a total expenditure of $190,623 locally.

Outside of Boston, Chelsea was the one community where RAFT was utilized more than others. The next closest community was Malden with 47 families helped.

The Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program provides families with a small amount of cash assistance and provides an option to having to enter emergency shelter. Metro Housing Boston administers RAFT in Boston and 28 surrounding communities. With RAFT, eligible families can apply for up to $4,000 that can be used to help retain housing, get new housing, keep utilities on and to avoid homelessness. To qualify, a family cannot make more than 50 percent of the area median income, which in the 2017 Boston region was $46,550 for a family of three.

“Many families are living paycheck to paycheck,” red the report. “An unplanned expense can put their housing in jeopardy. RAFT provides a safety net for families to have something to fall back on when they are in crisis and need support.”

It is the fourth year that Metro Housing Boston has shared the data about the program, which is funded by the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Stating that Boston is one of the top five most expensive cities to live within in the United States, officials from Metro Housing Boston said such funding is extremely important for families with very low incomes to handle things like fires or other catastrophes that they cannot afford to plan for.

“For four years running, our reports continue to show the positive impacts of the RAFT program,” said Metro Housing Executive Director Christopher Norris. “For a relatively small investment, families in our region are able to stay in their communities near their children’s schools, their health providers, and their social networks. This is crucial to helping families maintain stability and achieve economic security.”

Overall, including Chelsea, the program likely saved 1,000 families from turning to a shelter – which also is estimated to have saved the state $31 million in emergency shelter funds. For the $3.8 million RAFT funding, 1,474 families were able to resolve housing crises.

With the continued commitment to funding by the state for RAFT, the program has been able to assist 60 percent more families than it did four years ago. However, this year the average benefit decreased by 3 percent to an average of $2,614 per client.

Also, a pilot program during FY17 expanded RAFT eligibility to include families of all sizes and configurations. Under this program, Metro Housing served 60 households, 31 of whom were individuals and 27 of whose head of household had a disability.

A vast majority of those receiving RAFT (48 percent) use it to pay rent that is in arrears. Some 20 percent use it to pay security deposits for a new apartment, and 11 percent use it for first/last months rent payments on a new apartment.

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