Touch the Sky PV (Previously PV Housing Now): Funds for Unhoused Community
$26,400 raised
526 contributors
180 Days running

Who We Are:

We are a network of unhoused & housed people, organizers, workers, students, and artists dedicated to mobilizing resources in the Pioneer Valley. Our group developed as an initial response to the Co-vid-19 pandemic in March with the goal of working on and supporting mutual aid efforts, and legislative efforts for unhoused people. Our initiatives grew out of direct requests and knowledge from unhoused people. We know that unhoused and housing insecure people can and must lead the fight to end houseless-ness and poverty. In order for unhoused people to have time, and energy to lead we must ensure they have everything they need and want. 

It is extremely difficult to be unhoused in Northampton and Amherst, however this is true ten-fold in 2020. Unhoused community members and leaders have repeatedly shared the experience of a disregard for their livelihoods during the Covid-19 pandemic. Shelters are full, affordable housing wait-lists take three to five years, restaurant closures make food scarce, buses run on a reduced schedule, a decrease in foot traffic means a decrease in money made on the sidewalk, and mental health resources are at-capacity. 

With or without a pandemic, being unhoused is a full time job. One which requires carrying belongings with you all day, finding and maintaining places to sleep free of police harassment, making sure you have enough money for food & water, protecting clothing and tents which continuously get damaged, and on and on. Utilizing the sparse state resources requires time, internet, charged technological devices, and transportation which are all obstacles to unhoused people as they work all day to survive. 

With this knowledge, we act as a conduit to share hoarded resources including money, housing, and job security with our unhoused neighbors. Through building relationships we aim to meet the individual needs of unhoused people. This can mean providing survival resources, micro loans, tents, daily meals, medical resources, mental health resources, access to housing or job market, cosigners, support in navigating government/nonprofit systems, etc.  We also aim to meet communal needs of the unhoused in Northampton and Amherst. This means providing food for community dinners, opening a drop in center, and pushing local and state legislators to enact laws and policies which protect and provide for unhoused people. 

In the text below we have detailed how your money will be used to ensure unhoused and housing insecure people can not only survive, but thrive. With a steady supply of funds, and hard work, we envision a valley with every unhoused person in a home, resting, eating, in joy, watching movies, and getting exactly what they need, want and more. 


Plan for Funds:

Money for individuals: ~ 50% of total funds raised

 Our initial fundraising efforts went towards GoFundMe’s for unhoused individuals. Though effective, this approach takes immense energy and vulnerability from the recipient and is limiting in access. Donations to this shared fundraiser, will ensure that whoever needs funds has access, without invasive explanations, conditions or expectations. Money will be given directly in the form of accessible, barrier-free micro-grants to our unhoused and housing insecure community. These micro-grants can be used to pay first, last, and security, phone and car bills, transportation expenses, and whatever else the recipient needs. We understand the importance of financial autonomy for our unhoused friends. 

In addition to steady supplies of micro-grants, we aim to compensate our unhoused members for their time and labor. We believe it is vital that unhoused people are paid for their work as organizers. Through financial compensation we will sustainably value the time of unhoused people as they take leadership roles within our collective, while also being on the frontline of the violence of houselessness. 

 

Money for supplies/food: ~ 10% of total funds raised

This percentage of funds raised will go towards the steady supply of food, toiletries, and other survival necessities to the unhoused community of Western Mass. This money will also go towards providing out-door survival necessities such as tents. We know access to tents is limited, and oftentimes tents are destroyed due to weather, police violence, or other outstanding circumstances. Without stable tenting options, many are unable to stay dry, get rest, or have any privacy. We are building a network of housed and unhoused people who can break-bread together. These funds will also go towards these shared meals, as well as daily meals for unhoused people. This network includes people who have offered their time & kitchens to distribute food. These funds will go towards food, as well as gloves, cutlery, plates and Tupperware.

 

Money for drop in center: ~40% of total fund-raised

After speaking to many unhoused and housing insecure people in and around Northampton, there was an overwhelming request for a drop-in center in downtown Northampton. A drop in center would be incredibly helpful in offering a steady and central supply of food, hygiene products, medical and harm reduction supplies, clothing, and outdoor survival equipment. It will also be a safe place for unhoused people to organize, find relief from harsh weather, temporarily rest and take breaks, use the restroom, and store their possessions. There has also been requests for internet and computers. We know that many state and nonprofit run programs for unhoused people require online paperwork, and often housing and job applications are exclusively online. Without stable internet and computer access unhoused people are unable to access the resources which are essential to their survival. Having computers and internet in the drop in center will make these previously inaccessible resources and processes available to all unhoused people in and around Northampton. The drop in center will use the “community fridge” model, in which any community member can drop off and pick up food. While Covid-19 continues to be prevalent, we will be strictly in compliance with state and city wide mandates to ensure safety and health of our community. 

PV housing now’s vision for the drop in center is one of abundance of care, safety, and resources for everyone unhoused and housing insecure. We are raising funds to pay for rent, electric, gas, wifi, and water. Anyone who is housing secure will be encouraged to volunteer to man the front desk, provide support in housing and job searches, offer legal advice, clean, and distribute resources in compliance with Covid-19 mandates. We aim to provide micro-grants in compensation for any unhoused or housing insecure community members who choose to provide time, and energy to creating and sustaining the drop in center. All funds allocated towards the drop-in center will be used with complete transparency with donors as well as unhoused people. 

 

Why we need YOU!

Today we ask you to envision the abundance in the Pioneer Valley, and wonder what it would look like if that abundance was mobilized into care for the most vulnerable members of the Pioneer Valley. Envision a valley with housing for everyone. Does this imagining make more sense in your bones and body than a valley where people live without housing and food? We work towards a world in which it makes absolutely no sense that the state has created the conditions of poverty and houseless-ness and then criminalizes people for the conditions it creates and maintains.

By being in our togetherness, we build this world everyday based in mutuality, reciprocity, care and love. You are being asked to bring your resources to the building of this world. Your money is power, and you are being asked to use this power to build this vision with us. 

We are immensely grateful for any and all support in meeting these urgent needs. You can give in two ways, a one time donation, or a recurring monthly donation. We will send bi-weekly updates to our generous supporters detailing the ways in which funds supported our unhoused friends. As a collective we are in the process of establishing a third-party bookkeeping system for utmost transparency for our donors as well as our unhoused friends.

 

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