Our story begins during the cold winter months of 1994. A homeless man, who could not get a bed at the Grove Street Inn because it was full, froze to death on the railway tracks. Subsequently, then-Mayor Mary Ford appealed to local churches to provide emergency overnight shelter. Seven churches responded and rotated housing and feeding the homeless during the winter months. The City employed a professional staff member from ServiceNet to work closely with the guests. This collaboration between the City, ServiceNet, and a group of concerned volunteers was the start of a long-lasting and productive relationship.
Three years later, the volunteers located a permanent site in the basement of 43 Center St. Northampton, which became known as the Interfaith Winter Shelter. Friends of Hampshire County Homeless Individuals (FHCHI) provided financial and volunteer support for this shelter for many years. The operation of the shelter recently transitioned to Clinical Support Options, so that FHCHI could use its resources to maximize its support of individuals experiencing homelessness in Hampshire County, MA.
Inspired by the Housing First movement, FHCHI has moved forward to continue to create permanent housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in our community. We have purchased, renovated, and developed the following properties to succeed in our mission:
- 2008: Yvonne’s House, a residence for six chronically homeless individuals. Currently owned and managed by ServiceNet.
- 2011: Gandara-Friends House, a duplex in Northampton that provides permanent housing for six individuals who have experienced homelessness and who are committed to recovery from substance abuse.
- 2018: Teen Housing, a residence in Northampton for eight unaccompanied homeless youth, owned and managed by Dial/Self.
- 2022: Franklin St. Housing, a residence in Northampton, Ma providing housing for local individuals with disabilities. Currently owned and operated by Independent Housing Solutions, Inc.
Moving forward, we hope to continue this legacy of providing permanent housing for local individuals in need while offering additional support services along side our community partners. The Housing First model provides the best support for individuals experiencing homelessness, allowing all individuals a stable foundation to rebuild their lives and seek the support they need.