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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Chelsea Fire Takes Delivery of Two New Apparatus

Chelsea Fire Takes Delivery of Two New Apparatus

The Chelsea Fire Department recently received two new pieces of fire apparatus, and at the moment both are being outfitted a preparing to be put into service.

The Chelsea Fire Department (CFD) has taken delivery of two new fire vehicles this week. Both are currently being outfitted and will be put into service later this month.

The Chelsea Fire Department (CFD) has taken delivery of two new fire vehicles this week. Both are currently being outfitted and will be put into service later this month.

First, the new Ladder 2, which replaces a 1999 aerial that runs from the Mill Hill Station on Broadway, was purchased by the City as part of the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This new truck is currently being customized with equipment and going through the training process, and will be in service by the end of November.

The addition of this new ladder truck gives the department a viable spare aerial device that can be placed in service when a front line ladder is down for service or repairs, which is a great safety net for the city.

Second, the new Rescue 1 will replace the current Squad 5 and a step van that was utilized as a Special Operations vehicle.

This Rescue was acquired through the Assistance to Firefighters Grant program that was applied for by Fire Chief Len Albanese.

This $600,000 Rescue was obtained at only a 10 percent co-share by the City. This truck will be equipped with Special Operations equipment, most of which has been provided to the City through the Metro Boston Urban Area Strategic Initiative (UASI) program.  As part of the regional preparedness, Chelsea specializes in Technical Search for structural collapse.

When needed for Regional Response, this new Rescue can quickly get a large amount of equipment and to the scene of an incident.  This truck will be customized next, once the Ladder is completed. Then the department will conduct additional training and the project will be completed by the end of the year if not sooner.

The department hopes to be able to eventually staff this Rescue with the expansion of the additional eight firefighters obtained through SAFER Grant.

For now, it will be in service – unmanned and taken when needed, the same way the current Squad 5 has been used.

“My goal with the SAFER grant that provided eight additional firefighters and the acquisition of the Rescue was to get more boots on the ground in the field and eventually get the Rescue staffed,” said Chief Albanese. “The city manager and the council have made a commitment to support funding for these projects. Time will tell if we are able to bring this goal to fruition within our budget. There are several factors that will affect that possibility.”

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Police Briefs 06-16-2016


Chelsea Fire and Police were kept busy this past week responding to several motor vehicle accidents.

On Thursday evening, June 9, a motor vehicle accident was reported in the vicinity of Eastern Ave and Cottage Streets.

According to witnesses the accident occurred when one of the operators traveling north on Eastern Avenue attempted to make a left turn from Eastern Avenue onto Cottage Street and was struck by a vehicle traveling south in the opposite direction. Both vehicles suffered extensive damage as well as a telephone pole that was struck in the process. One of the operators to the hospital with non life threatening injury and both vehicles were towed from the scene.

On Friday morning, June 10, a Tractor Trailer attempting to turn onto Highland Street from Central Avenue struck a parked vehicle owned by Ventura Taxi (see photo). The accident caused a serious traffic delay as crews from Todisco Towing attempted to remove the mini van that was locked onto the rear bumper of the truck. No injuries were reported.

On Sunday afternoon, June 12, Chelsea Fire and Police responded to the area of 221 Webster Ave. on a report of a multiple car accident with airbag deployment. Chelsea Fire Fighters from E3/ L2 under the command of Act. Capt. Rogers arrived to find the aftermath of a two-vehicle accident. Multiple passengers in one of the vehicles suffered non life threatening head and neck injuries and were transported to the hospital.

Chelsea Police are investigated the cause of the accidents.


On June 4, around 1:14 a.m., officers responded to 156 Washington Ave. for the report of shots fired. Chelsea dispatchers advised responding officers that the witness caller reported that they observed a Hispanic male wearing a white t-shirt and camouflage shorts running down Washington Avenue towards Bloomingdale Street carrying a black handgun.

Upon arrival officers conducted an immediate search of the area for potential suspects and potential victims. While conducting a search of the area, officers were able to utilize video from a nearby store that captured evidence. Based on that video and officers’ actions they placed subject under arrest. A firearm was recovered later by officers.

Jesus Perez, 19, of 37 Suffolk Ave., was charged with discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a building, assault and battery attempt with a firearm, disorderly conduct, carrying a loaded firearm without a permit and possession of ammunition without a permit.


On May 31, officers responded to 583 Broadway on a report of a home invasion. The officer’s noted the victim never called police but ran into a nearby store thinking he may have been shot. Upon arrival officers were informed at the store by the reluctant victim that two armed males entered his home while he was in his bedroom. He was confronted by the two suspects and a struggle with the two males he could not identify ensued. He reported that he was pistol whipped, causing a laceration to the face area. The victim also reported that the suspects fired two rounds but he was not hit by the rounds.

Gary Desir, 30, of 583 Broadway, was charged with cocaine trafficking and possession of a Class B drug.


On June 1, around 5 p.m., members of the Chelsea Police Drug Unit set up surveillance in the area of 170 Revere Beach Parkway as a direct result of receiving multiple complaints for illicit drug activities..

Detectives were sitting in the parking lot of Metro Credit Union in an unmarked vehicle conducting surveillance when they observed a drug transaction between two vehicles. Based on observations both vehicles were stopped. The subsequent stop resulted in the subjects being placed under arrest and narcotics seized.

Alexis Rodriguez, 32, of Lynn, was charged with distribution of a Class A drug, conspiracy and four warrants.

Dana Memory, 28, of Somerville, was charged with distribution of a Class A drug and conspiracy.

Kelvin Veras, 26, of 120 Central Ave., was charged with distribution of a Class A drug and conspiracy.


On Friday, June 3, officers were dispatched to the Las Papusas Restaurant located at 92 Washington Ave. for a report of a male party who had a handgun threatening people in the area. Officers were given a description and detained a suspect based on witness statements. The victims stated that the male approached them in front of the bar and lifted his waistband, which revealed to them a black handgun. He then made threatening comments to the victims.

Officers were able to detain and search suspect’s car and recovered a black BB gun. Suspect was placed under arrest.

Jose Nolasco, 26, of Everett, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon and threatening to commit a crime.

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Heading for Victory


The Chelsea Red Devils boys soccer team is on a tear this season, being undefeated with two ties (14-0-2). The team has had a tremendous year needless to say, and continued its winning ways on Monday in a home game versus Northeast Metro Tech, winning 3-1. Here, Derilson Barros De Pina gets his head into the game with a midfield shot.

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Chelsea Rotary Installation of Officers Set for June 30

The Chelsea Rotary Club will hold its Annual Installation of Officers at 6pm at the Chelsea Yacht Club on Tuesday June 30th. MCs for the evening will be Past Presidents Joe Vinard and Sergio Jaramillo. Installed officers for 2015/2016 will be Atty. Mark White, of Hagstrom White P.C. as President, Rev. Sandra Whitley of People’s A.M.E. Church as President-Elect, Atty. David Mindlin of Kraft and Hall as Vice President, Past President D. Bruce Much of Chelsea Clock as Secretary, Melissa Vo of Fusion Foods as Sergeant-at-Arms and Past President Joe Vinard of Chelsea Bank a division of East Cambridge Savings Bank as Treasurer. Past President Robert Alconada of Shore Collaborative will be honored as Rotarian of the Year. Abril Bocanegra will be installed as the Chelsea High School Interact President for 2015/2016. The Club will also be awarding Paul Harris Fellowships, one of Rotary International’s highest honors, to three Rotarians; Past President Brian Hatleberg of PHH Mortgage, John Letizia of CAPIC and Past President Saritin Rizzuto of Metro CU. Outgoing President Joseph Panetta of Joseph Panetta Accounting and Tax Services will be thanked for his past year of service to the Chelsea Rotary Club.

Everyone is invited to attend this event honoring the outstanding business people in our community. If you would like to attend, contact Sue Gallant at sgallant@segallantcpa.com or call 617-884-7382.

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Training Drills

Training Drills


If you were walking, driving or just sitting comfortably in your home Saturday morning, chances are you had a Henry Hill moment. For the better portion of the morning and early afternoon, members of the Massachusetts State Police, FBI and the U.S. Department of Energy were conducting training drills over the city making several low passes just above rooftops in a Bell Rotorcraft Survey helicopter measuring natural ground radiation levels. Several people were caught by surprise as the aircraft would appear out of nowhere over rooftops and tree lines. At one point the aircraft made an extremely close pass by the Chelsea Street Bridge about 150 feet off the ground. The training exercises were being conducted over several cities in the Metro Boston area.

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High School Students Donate Pajamas and Books to Children

High School Students Donate Pajamas and Books to Children

Northeast Metro Tech’s Early Childhood Education program has collected more than 50 bedtime essentials for children in need.

“It is an important cause to all of us and as a school community,” says senior Yesenia Montijo.

Earlier this semester, students and teachers at the Wakefield school gathered books and pairs of pajamas as part of the “1 Million Good Nights Pajama Program,” a national non-profit organization. The Metro Tech—a regional vocational high school drawing students from Chelsea, Malden, Melrose, North Reading, Reading, Revere, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Winchester, Winthrop, and Woburn—has sent the items to the Counsel of Social Concern for distribution to needy families in Massachusetts.

Students in the Early Education program made this effort a success by hosting a pajama drive at the school to raise awareness of the cause. The students created posters and placed them around the school and set up boxes where donations were collected.

“We learned how advertising can help raise awareness and hope to advertise even more next year,” says senior Kailee Andrews.

This effort, conducted under the supervision and guidance of Metro Tech instructors Barbara Peary and Sarah Scott, will make a difference in many children’s lives.

It is not surprising that these local vocational students would be so attuned to the needs of young people in the community because the Early Childhood Program at the Metro Tech is a fully functioning preschool, which caters to children ages two years and nine months to five years old. The preschool services surrounding communities and has open enrollment all year long. High school students in the program are working towards their preschool teacher license under the supervision of two vocational instructors.

As a force for public service, as well as in its everyday role as a literacy-based pre-school with great teacher-student ratios, Northeast Metro Tech’s Early Childhood program is proving to be a great community resource.

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Metro Credit Celebrates Newton Branch Opening

Metro Credit Celebrates Newton Branch Opening

metro Metro Credit Union recently celebrated the opening of their new branch located at 334 Watertown St. in Newton with an official ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Metro’s decision to open here has been many years in the making. We have thousands of members in the city and in neighboring communities and have always felt that our expansion here was inevitable. It’s great to finally make it happen,” said Robert M. Cashman, President and CEO. “We are proud to be in Newton and look forward to expanding our efforts through community outreach, increased financial literacy and becoming a true partner in the neighborhood,” Cashman added.

The new location marks Metro’s 15th branch and is located in the village of Nonantum. Metro’s decision to open its branch in the village of Nonantum was based not only the rich history of the area, but also on the residents and community itself. Nonantum is in early stages of revitalization. As a credit union, Metro has been active participants in this process as it has occurred elsewhere in the communities we serve.

This branch opened for business on Monday, August 18, and provides members living in the Newton area convenient banking services.

About Metro Credit Union

Metro Credit Union is the largest state-chartered credit union in Massachusetts with over $1.3 billion in assets, and serves more than 170,000 members. It is a growing, federally insured financial institution and a leading provider of a full range of financial services to anyone living or working in Essex, Middlesex, Suffolk, Norfolk, Plymouth, Barnstable or Worcester counties in Eastern Massachusetts, as well as Massachusetts state employees and retirees throughout the Commonwealth.

Founded in 1926, Metro Credit Union is a non-profit cooperative institution, owned by and operated for the people who use and benefit from its products and services. Metro uses superior customer service and technology to deliver a full range of financial products to consumers and businesses in eastern Massachusetts. Metro is well known for providing members with unlimited refunds of other banks’ ATM fees through its My Reward Checking account

Metro Credit Union has 15 branch offices conveniently located in Boston, Burlington, Chelsea, Framingham, Lawrence, Lynn, Melrose, Newton, Peabody, Salem, and Tewksbury, and is also a leader in workplace banking, serving over 1,800 companies throughout the state.


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Ash given MANN Award

Ash given MANN Award

Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash recently received the Theodore Mann Regional Leadership Award from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) at the planning agency’s Fall Meeting in Boston.

MAPC is the regional planning agency serving 101 cities and towns in Greater Boston. The award is given annually in memory of Newton’s longest-serving mayor, Theodore “Teddy” Mann, and recognizes a municipal leader from Greater Boston whose commitment to regional collaboration best exemplifies Mann’s legacy.

“Jay’s accomplishments in the city of Chelsea are the stuff of legend, reaching well beyond the city’s boundaries. He is ahead of the curve, a visionary, a practitioner who gets things done,” said Richard Mann, Theodore’s son, who presented the award on Wednesday, October 29. He praised Ash’s achievements in revitalizing the once-struggling city, from securing credit rating increases to improving the schools and public safety to attracting new business and luxury housing, increasing livability for residents in the process. “Like Teddy Mann, he has gladly and willingly shared the secrets of his success with others,” Mann said.

Ash was born and raised in Chelsea and is a past president of MAPC. Appointed City Manager in 2001, he is Chelsea’s longest-serving CEO, and served the city as Planning Director and as Chief of Staff to House Majority Leader Richard Voke of Chelsea. He is Co-Founder and current Vice-Chairman of the Metro Mayors Coalition, he sits on the board of the public policy think tank MassINC, and is an elected trustee of his alma mater, Clark University.

“I take this award back to Chelsea, because it has always been about teamwork for us at City Hall. We can do so much more together than we can apart,” said Ash in accepting the honor Wednesday. “The things we are doing here in this region were unthinkable 30 years ago, and I know that Theodore Mann would be proud of all we’ve achieved. I look forward to all the achievements the future is going to bring.”


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State Regional Planning Effort Kicks off in Chelsea

State Regional Planning Effort Kicks off in Chelsea

As the habits and preferences change for where people seek to call home, state and local officials have banded together to develop a regional land use plan for nine cities and towns in a region now dubbed the Metro North.

Those cities and towns included Revere, Everett, Chelsea, Charlestown, Winthrop, East Boston, Melrose, Malden and Somerville; and state officials met with representatives from those areas (and others) last Thursday in Chelsea’s Wyndham Hotel to detail priority development areas.

Chief among the effort is the fact that municipal planners have begun to see that people are no longer flocking to the suburbs, but rather seeking to live closer to Boston and all of its amenities.

“We are all brought here because life has changed, preferences have changed, the market has changed and what people are looking for has changed,” said Marc Draisson of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). “There was a time when the cities were a place to run away from as fast as you could. There were large tracts of single-family homes going up next to large industrial parks. You were to live and work as far away as possible. That has changed dramatically. Most people are fundamentally not interested in being that far away anymore, or if they are, it’s for a much shorter period of time; not in the beginning and not at the end, but only a short time in the middle. They are thinking much more about living closer to other people, and not so much about living far away from their neighbors…That change presents and exciting opportunity for these places north of Boston.”

The changes in the cities and towns north of Boston were showcased by the turnaround in Chelsea, whereby the large contingent of officials were meeting in a nice hotel in that City.

“Today we have all come together in this nice Wyndham Hotel in Chelsea,” said Chelsea City Manager Jay Ash. “Had we held a meeting like this in Chelsea 18 years ago, it would have been at the Hotel Stanley where you would have rented rooms by the hour and not the night. It would have been a place that none of us would have wanted to hold such a time as this.”

Greg Bialecki, state Housing and Economic Development Secretary, said the regional plan comes in part because the state believes that the Metro North area is poised to explode with opportunity in the next 10 to 20 years. To be ahead of the curve, they want to have a plan ready so that current residents aren’t taken by storm when change occurs.

“We need to have a plan ready ahead of time for when growth happens,” he said. “People wake up and say, ‘My neighborhood changed and my City changed and I’m not sure how that happened and I don’t necessarily like how it turned out.’ We don’t believe that is the best way to plan and we want to change that.”

Bialecki said the Metro North plan is the fourth region for which they’ve prioritized regional assets – an effort that started several years ago with the South Coast in Fall River. However, Bialecki said Metro North leaders have come together in a way that others haven’t.

“These areas are working together in a way that the governor and I don’t see in other places in this state,” he said.

Among the short-term and long-term areas cited in the plan for priority development were Revere Beach/Wonderland, East Boston’s Waterfront, Chelsea’s Everett Avenue Urban Renewal District, Everett/Malden River Green, Malden Center, Charlestown’s Sullivan Square and Somerville’s Union Square – among others.

Those leaders in attendance were Chelsea’s Jay Ash, Revere Mayor Dan Rizzo, Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Winthrop Town Manager Jim McKenna, Malden Mayor Gary Christianson, State Sen. Sal DiDomenico, State Rep. Paul Donato, and Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan.


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