First All Souls Community Forum to Focus on Homelessness

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Forum addresses issues of social justice and environmental responsibility.

All Souls Church, Unitarian Universalist, of Braintree is launching the All Souls Community Forum, a lecture/film series to inform and educate the general public about vital social and environmental issues. The first forum of the year, Help for the Homeless, is planned for Saturday, January 10, 2009 from 2 - 4 P.M. at All Souls Church, 196 Elm Street, Braintree.

The national mortgage crisis and rising foreclosures have sparked an increase in homelessness in Massachusetts. Social service organizations now struggle to serve the burgeoning numbers of the newly homeless throughout Massachusetts. The Boston Globe reported that as of the end of September, shelters are housing approximately 2,000 families and 2,900 individuals, an increase of 143 families and 93 individuals compared to a year ago, according to the Massachusetts' Department of Transitional Assistance. The state was also housing well over five hundred families in hotels and motels, up from 27 families last year at that time.

The Help for the Homeless Forum will feature two organizations that focus on homelessness in Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, and Father Bills & Mainspring. Guest speakers are: Joe Finn, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance (MHSA); Caitlin Golden, Social Action Ministries Coordinator of the MHSA; and Tom Washington, Director of Community Relations at Father Bills & MainSpring.

The Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance ( has revolutionized the ways in which people who are chronically homeless receive assistance. New programs provide permanent homes to these individuals, who also receive support services to help them deal with their medical and/or mental health needs. Cities throughout the nation have found that this strategy has proven to be more effective and much less costly than housing these individuals in emergency shelters.

Before the recent economic downturn, Father Bills & Mainspring ( also had successfully placed many chronically homeless individuals in permanent housing and had reduced the number of people housed in its shelters. Now, however, the Boston Globe has reported that its emergency shelters are overcrowded, with the average number of people housed per night exceeding the available beds by 50%. Shelter visits are up 30% from last year at this time.
The Help for the Homeless Forum will inform participants about the scope of homelessness in Braintree and neighboring communities, and generate suggestions for helping individuals and families that are affected by this crisis. Donations of toiletries, towels and blankets will be accepted at the Forum.

The All Souls Community Forum aims to broaden public awareness of issues involving social justice and environmental responsibility. The program has taken shape as a result of two successful workshops on economic justice that were presented in the last year by Jeannette Huezo of United for a Fair Economy. All Souls Church co-sponsored these programs with the Unitarian Universalist churches of Quincy and Milton.    

The All Souls Community Forum on homelessness will be held at All Souls Church, Unitarian Universalist, 196 Elm Street, Braintree 02814. For directions, visit

All Souls Church, Unitarian Universalist, of Braintree, MA: A beacon of liberal religion on Boston's South Shore - A Welcoming Congregation - A Green Sanctuary.


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