Since Shiela Y. Moore took the reigns as CEO of Hildebrand in 2013, we have continued to grow and evolve in order to better support the families we serve. Under Shiela’s leadership our shelter capacity has increased from 99 families to 126; expanding the congregate living model from 23 units to 53 within two years after witnessing its increased success. She has increased our permanent housing from 5 units to 11, and finance and property management are now all conducted in house thanks to her efforts. While we continue to make great strides, family homelessness is not going away. Last year, 226 families came through our shelter doors.
Our vision is that Every family has a home, but the shrinking number of vouchers and affordable housing in the Greater Boston area has made it increasingly more difficult for families to move beyond shelter.
Families often spend a year or more on the wait list before coming up for apartments at area housing authorities. Unfortunately, lack of vouchers and housing options are not the only barriers to self-sufficiency. Medical conditions, mental health, credit or CORI issues, ESOL, past-evictions, low wages, and immigration status are only a few among the litany of barriers Hildebrand families face. In turn, case managers struggle to meet each family’s needs when it involves something we aren’t equipped to address.
Over the course of FY’17, the senior leadership team took measures to evaluate our current programming and identify gaps drawing upon feedback from Programs team members and a human resource assessment conducted by Insource, a management consulting firm. The goals were to provide consistency across programs, strengthen stabilization support, build stronger connections between Hildebrand and our permanent housing tenants, and strengthen housing search support, targeted barrier reduction, and increase client education. Additionally, Hildebrand will improve data collection and evaluation. In order to accomplish these goals, two new positions were developed and three existing positions have been refocused.
The Housing Search and Tenant Support Specialist (HSTSS) is a new position that developed out of a need to assist families with their housing search and provide stabilization case management to families that have moved into permanent housing with HomeBase, who are often less stably-housed than those with vouchers. The HSTSS will assist case management with targeted housing search while cultivating relationships with new landlords.
In June, Marc Jean-Jacques, the Residential Manager of our Cambridge congregate shelters, was promoted to HSTSS. During FY’17, Marc helped 13 families, about 93% of his caseload, successfully transition out of shelter and move into permanent, affordable housing. With a proven track record for high move outs, Marc was ideally suited for this role. “I think my housing speciality and my advocacy skills will serve me in this new position,” he mused. “I hope to create a landlord and housing authorities database for the whole organization, and create a relationship between landlords and Hildebrand so that we can be the first place a landlord calls when they have an apartment for rent.”
He continued, “The challenge will be to gain landlord trust and spreading Hildebrand’s name across all the housing authorities. It will be a lot of networking.”
The second newly developed position, Client Services Coordinator, will research, develop, and implement tools and resources that reduce barriers for Hildebrand families. “Hildebrand has a lot of potential to be a really innovative organization and provide support needed to end the cycle of homelessness,” said Brianna Gaddy, who was promoted from Case Manager at Strathcona House to the Client Services Coordinator position in July. “As a case manager, I saw the support that’s needed to fully address the barriers our clients face and how difficult it can be to find those resources while maintaining the day-to-day functions of the role. This new position is a way to provide more support to our staff and our clients. I think it’s an exciting opportunity to be a part of that.”
In addition to these newly created roles, Shiela Y. Moore and her leadership team redefined a few existing positions. Deborah Lovell, whose previous role as Property and Housing Placement Manager (PHPM) functioned under the Operations department. As the PHPM, Deborah was the liaison between Hildebrand and our scattered site and congregate landlords, and she also managed Hildebrand’s permanent housing properties. In her redefined role as Property Manager and Tenant Support Specialist, which has been enveloped into Programs, Deborah will continue to manage Hildebrand permanent housing portfolio, currently at 11 units (but expected to grow), and, like the HSTSS, will support a caseload of 15 families in stabilization.
“In this newly defined role, I am hoping to integrate as much support in areas of self-advocacy, having tenants be empowered to stand up for themselves and support themselves in as many aspects as possible by teaching them to take the lead towards their own independence,” Deb explained.
Cory Mills-Dick was promoted to Deputy Director of Programs in May. In his previous role as Assistant Director of Programs, Cory was responsible for the oversight of all aspects of our congregate living programs, which encompass 53 homeless families, 5 direct reports, and over 40 secondary reports. In his redefined role, Cory oversees all aspects of Hildebrand’s Emergency Shelter programming, supporting all 126 families. Additionally, Cory is responsible for the implementation of consistent, effective, and intensive interventions to support families in obtaining permanent housing and achieving self-sufficiency.
“Consolidating the oversight of the congregate and scattered site programs allows us to have more consistency in our service delivery and the addition of Marc and Brianna gives case managers much needed support addressing housing and barrier specific issues,” Cory explained. “Overall, I think the impact on the services we provide to clients will be significant and we will see a more comprehensive vision for the direction of our Emergency Shelter program.”
As the Deputy Director of Programs, Cory’s direct reports have increased from five to eleven, with the addition of six scattered site case managers. “We have such a committed and hardworking staff, it will be exciting to see what they will be able to accomplish with the additional support that our restructure provides,” Cory exclaimed.
Leading this renewed department, Michelle Novelle, LICSW, PhD, joined the team in August as the new Director of Programs. Michelle’s focus will be the further development of prevention and intervention programs and activities, expansion of stabilization services, and create partnerships that address income, language, education, employment, housing search, health and wellness, and program evaluation. Michelle brings nearly 30 years of experience to Hildebrand, most recently as the VP of Programs and Operations at St. Mary’s Center for Women and Children, where she provided day to day oversight of 8 programs, including the DHCD funded family shelter. Michelle’s background as a senior manager, counselor, adjunct professor at Boston University School of Social Work, and researcher makes her uniquely qualified for this role because she brings a strong combination of management, academic, and direct service experience in family homelessness and the challenges of providers.
“I was drawn to Hildebrand for a number of reasons. In part, the sheer number of families served by the organization appealed to my love of systems in that Hildebrand plays an important role in the quest to safely house families and ultimately facilitate the possibility of long term stability and positive social outcomes for the children,” Michelle said. “My hope is that the experience I have in both academia and practice will allow for evidence based programmatic development that is able to be implemented, integrated and ultimately sustained in a manner that best serves our families.”
It really is an exciting time to work at Hildebrand and see how these changes impact our families positively and help to become more stable and move beyond shelter.