February 19, 2010
No votes took place in the House this week due to a scheduled District Work period.
This week I met with students from the Cambridge Middle School Partnership Program at the Gately Youth Center. The Cambridge Youth Programs currently serve 1000 young people between the ages of 9 and 18 at five centers located throughout the city of Cambridge. I learned more about their programming and talked with students about my work in Washington. I also met with students who participate in the Cambridge Work Force Youth Program (CWFYP) at Jefferson Park and held an informal roundtable discussion with some of the students and staff. CWFYP is a five-year program partnered with the Cambridge Housing Authority. It provides college prep and mentoring services every year to about 125 students living in public housing.
I met, too, with officials from Nuestra Comunidad Community Development Corporation. We talked about some of their ongoing economic development and housing projects. The CDC is in the process of purchasing foreclosed homes as a way to promote neighborhood revitalization.
During my briefing, we also visited some Nuestra Comunidad project sites, including the Quincy Commons project in Roxbury. Upon completion, the Commons will offer 40 units of affordable elderly housing. We also toured the Kasanof project on Blue Hill Avenue in Roxbury, which will result in a mixed use development of affordable housing and retail.
I toured the new facilities of Community Servings in Jamaica Plain. Community Servings provides meals and nutrition information for people who are suffering from severe illnesses. Many national programs provide meals for seniors and children, but very little is available for people who are too ill to cook and shop for themselves. We spoke at length about gaps in service and future programming challenges. Community Servings grew out of the AIDS crisis and has now expanded to serve people afflicted with over 35 different illnesses.
In addition to providing meals, Community Servings also offers a food service job training program, a 12 week initiative designed to provide the skills necessary to enter the food service work force. Working with the Mass Parole Board and Bunker Hill Community College, Community Servings' also offers the “Step Forward” program, giving recent parolees the opportunity to volunteer in their kitchen preparing meals, gaining food service skills.
Chelsea Neighborhood Developers
On Thursday I met with representatives from Chelsea Neighborhood Developers (CND) to learn more about their revitalization efforts in the community and to talk about their response to the ongoing foreclosure crisis.
We talked primarily about CND's Neighborhood Stabilization Initiative (NSI), which is designed to create affordable housing and neighborhood stabilization. The City of Chelsea is currently experiencing one of the highest levels of foreclosure in the state. CND worked with city officials and residents to develop a revitalization plan for the North Bellingham Hill neighborhood, which has been particularly hard hit by foreclosures. The plan represents a comprehensive approach to neighborhood improvement, including new green space, safer streets and revitalized housing.
What's up Next Week
Next week the House is scheduled to consider several bills, including the Health Insurance Competition Act.