Congratulations to our entire Network! We gathered on Friday May 12, 150 of us at Holyoke Community College, another 100 on Zoom, from each of our 4 counties, with 14 state legislators, as well as mayors and leaders from every sector.

We got the hard news about homelessness in our region; we got the clear solutions and we got filled with inspiration from our partners who know what it means to live and do this work for housing justice.

You can still get it all too! The data and solutions presentation is here. The video is embedded below (apologies for the distant view of speakers – think of it as an audio recording and it makes for great listening!).

If you want to zero in on our amazing partners’ words – Tanisha Arena of Arise for Social Justice and Shaundell Diaz of the Three County Continuum of Care, Community Action Pioneer Valley – go to the 44 minute mark for Tanisha’s talk and the 52 minute mark for Shaundell’s. They are not to be missed!

We also want to thank our legislative leaders who spoke passionately for the work of ending homelessness: Senator John Velis, Representative Shirley Arriaga and Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier. And we thank every western Massachusetts legislator who was able to join in the gathering that day: Senators Jo Comerford and Jake Oliveira, Representatives Natalie Blais, Dan Carey, Mindy Domb, Patricia Duffy, Michael Finn, Lindsay Sabadosa and Aaron Saunders, as well as the offices of Senator Adam Gomez and Representative Kelly Pease. We also thank Holyoke Mayor Josh Garcia for welcoming us, along with Holyoke Community College President Christina Royal and DHCD’s Director of Housing Stabilization, Alvina Brevard.

Most importantly, we thank the dozens and dozens of Network partners who showed up to feel the power of our community – actual, physical connection! sharing a virtual space! – and to demonstrate that we are building a housing justice movement that will make the change happen.

Finally, we can thank our local media coverage for helping us to get the word out even farther:

WWLP – Channel 22
Western Mass News (CBS 3, ABC 40, FOX 6)
Springfield Republican/MassLive
Daily Hampshire Gazette* (Shaundell leads off this article – check it out!)
Greenfield Recorder
New England Public Radio
WAMC Northeast Public Radio

We’ve got some fresh momentum as we head into the Senate budget debate next week – stay tuned for an action alert tomorrow on key amendment requests! – and the legislative hearings and advocacy on our priority bills continue.

As Shaundell put it last week: “We can do better. We must do better.”

Tanisha Arena, Arise for Social Justice
Tanisha Arena, Arise for Social Justice*
Shaundell Diaz, Three County Continuum of Care, CAPV
Shaundell Diaz, Three County Continuum of Care, CAPV*
Representative Shirley Arriaga, 8th Hampden District
Representative Shirley Arriaga, 8th Hampden District
Representative Farley Bouvier speaking
Representative Tricia Farley-Bouvier, 2nd Berkshire District
Senator Velis speaking
Senator John Velis, Hampden and Hampshire District
7th Annual Gathering: in-person event with live Zoom recording in progress
A full room and then some!

*Photos courtesy of Daily Hampshire Gazette.

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