I know many of us have been frustrated with some of Governor Patrick’s decisions since he took office. Putting curtains aside, he has faced opposition from the Speaker and in general I have given him a lot of leeway. But it was too much when I heard about his decision not to fund Hearth (formerly The Committee to End Elder Homelessness), an organization that provides care and housing for homeless elderly people. I am partly biased because I have a family member who works at the organization, but I have explained why this move is particularly frustrating in my letter to Governor Patrick:
I interned for your campaign during the summer of 2006, giving up paid opportunities as a college student to help get you elected. I was excited by many aspects of your candidacy, but one of them was that I thought you would support funding for intelligent social policies designed to help those in need in the short term and save money and lives in the long term. I am deeply disappointed to learn that you have cut funding for Hearth (line item 9110-1660).
As Hearth’s website states, “By providing supportive housing and outreach services specifically to homeless elderly individuals, Hearth is an important partner in the mission to end homelessness in Massachusetts. Hearth’s programs also save the Commonwealth money. Without Hearth’s services, many of these elders would end up in costly nursing homes or hospitals with illnesses that could have been easily prevented. With the help of Hearth, these elders receive appropriate levels of care and support, while remaining – or becoming – active members of the community and retaining their dignity and independence.”
In high school I volunteered for Hearth during the holidays and it was a joy to see Hearth’s clients being served. Hearth is a model of a good social organization that enables people’s agency and self-respect while going beyond “band-aid” solutions to solve the tragic problem of elder homelessness. I have to believe that cutting Hearth’s funding was an oversight on your part, because I do now want to believe that “Together We Can” meant “together we can cut funding for good social programs” and that your talk of a different kind of leadership meant more of the same old short-sighted leadership that the Republicans brought to our state for 16 years.
If you’d like to contact your representative to ask them to support the amendment Rep. Byron Rushing is sponsoring to restore Hearth’s funding, you can find information on Hearth’s Website.