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ABOUT MAAP

MAAP understands the crisis of homelessness and persistent poverty to be the culmination of the intersection of stark inequality rooted in racism, systems failure, and the skewed priorities of people in power. As such, we actively and continuously work to end the systems that are causing harm and engage in social justice advocacy and organizing that supports the creation of just and healthy communities for all. 

MAAP follows the leadership of, amplifies, and organizes with people who are unhoused and people who use drugs for evidence-based solutions to the interconnected systems and policy failures they are surviving. Housing justice, racial justice, ending the war on drugs, prison abolition, decriminalization of homelessness, and accessible and comprehensive healthcare for all are our work. While doing this we support people in meeting their self-identified needs through outreach and sweep support, and at our low-threshold drop-in space where people access material aid and meals; have risk reduction conversations and safety plan; connect to resources and providers; build community; care for each other; and organize. One member described MAAP as “a community where I can actively work towards escaping my homelessness, meet my basic needs and help others do the same. Where my contributions are valued and I'm able to fight for my community”.

HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
Material Aid & direct support

Pre-COVID MAAP provided support to over 2,000 unhoused and underhoused community members  and people surviving persistent poverty each year - with 96 organizations referring participants to MAAP for material aid by appointment. Our core community, most of whom are surviving poverty on the street or in encampments, dropped in for support and stayed to use the space to meet some of their most basic unmet needs and organize.

 

Part of  our space was setup as a free store where community members could “shop” independently allowing them to choose items that both meet their needs and suit their taste. Community members were welcome to a week’s worth of clothing and are able to access MAAP four times a year, or more frequently if their situation changed or they had a self-identified emergency and needed to replace their belongings. MAAP’s staff, volunteers, and unhoused organizers were available to provide participants with as much or as little assistance as they chose. 

MAAP meets unmet basic needs by providing free material aid:

  • Gently-used seasonally-appropriate clothing, shoes, and accessories

  • Survival supplies (tents, sleeping bags, yoga mats, camping packs, flashlights, water stations etc)

  • Hygiene Kits 

  • Menstrual Hygiene Kits

  • Wound Care Kits & Basic First Aid Kits

  • Small household goods (bedding, towels, cooking supplies, dishware) for people moving into SROs or their own apartments

This material aid is essential to community members trying to meet their most basic survival needs for daily life, on the streets or in shelters, at work or school, and for self-determination. 

 

MAAP also offers community members meals, snacks, and hot and cold beverages. In our space, people are able to access food freely from our communal refrigerator and prepare their own beverages. 

Since March 2020, we have operated our drop-in and free store uninterrupted outside in the front yard of MAAP, and through encampment and street outreach with volunteer support almost entirely from our unhoused organizers. In the late fall of 2021 we opened a daytime warming and respite space in the Friends’ Meeting House and as of last spring began hosting a housing navigator from the City of Cambridge for people seeking support to find affordable, safe, and stable housing. Community members are able to place "orders" with MAAP staff, organizers, and volunteers who then bring out the food and supplies they have requested and clothing options. As the Friends Meeting at Cambridge, our landlord and partner, is still making necessary safety upgrades to our space, we remain outside and in the sanctuary but look forward to moving back into our space in 2024. 

 

MAAP also engages in street and encampment outreach - offering food, survival supplies, resource information and connection, and support.

At the request of community members, MAAP offers sweep support, response, and defense - helping people move and replace belongings, liaising with police and DPW, sharing know your rights information, observing and documenting, offering resources and connection to medical and legal support, and when asked holding space to defend encampments

From March 2020 - December 2021 we made over 8,000 physically distant but meaningful connections with unhoused and under-housed community members.

HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
organizinG, advocacy & EDUCATION

MAAP joins with, amplifies, and supports unhoused people in sharing their experiences, needs, goals, and vision in advocacy and education efforts and hosts a weekly organizing meeting, providing support and skill building opportunities so our unhoused organizers can lead our organizing and advocacy work. We’re building collective power among unhoused people, people who use drugs, people w/mental illness, people involved in the criminal legal system, people who have experienced involuntary civil commitment, people living w/HIV, and people engaged in sex work. We’re co-creating a vision of evidence-based solutions to the interconnected crisis our community is surviving rooted in community care, abolition, and liberation - including housing as a right, expanded healthcare and harm reduction, and ending systems of harm.

MAAP ORGANIZING GROUP GOALS

  • HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT 

    • Create low-barrier, deeply affordable housing that is offered without pre-conditions, including abstinence or participation in substance use treatment, and is decoupled from sobriety and shelter, and includes voluntary supportive services

    • Establish City Rent Subsidy Programs in Boston and Cambridge

  • HEALTHCARE & HARM REDUCTION

    • Expand low-threshold healthcare and harm reduction services

    • Authorize supervised consumption sites where people can consume pre-obtained drugs in a safer environment in MA

  • HUMAN RIGHTS

    • End the involuntary and inhumane commitment of people under Section 35 and Section 12

    • Create community-based public safety programs that respond to calls about mental health crisis, substance use, and homelessness in Cambridge and Boston

    • End the forced removal of unhoused people from public space - including encampment sweeps and daily move-along orders. 

    • End Operation Clean Sweep, now codified in Boston’s encampment ban & Mayor Wu’s Citywide Plan to Address Homelessness & Substance Use, in Boston

  • ENDING SYSTEM OF HARM & ABOLITION

    • Abolish the Prison Industrial Complex (including the Police)

    • Establish a moratorium on new prisons and jails in MA

    • End the War on Drugs

    • Decriminalize drugs in MA

    • End the criminalization of sex work

    • Decriminalize sex work in MA

    • Stop the Newmarket Square Business Improvement District

 

MAAP collaborates in coalitions advocating for truly affordable low-barrier housing, supervised consumption sites, community crisis response, and ending the criminalization of unhoused people. 

MAAP offers workshops and teach-ins to the community including harm reduction overdose recognition, response, and aftercare; and supporting people surviving poverty in public. These are currently virtual, though we will explore in-person options in the future. 

 

MAAP has also provided trainings, safety planning and support in developing programmatic policies specifically tailored to the needs of organizational partners and the needs of community members and are based on our core philosophies and practices of harm reduction, trauma informed care, autonomy and self-determination, and abolition. These have included: 

  • A three part training with parters for a shelter that was experiencing challenges that included philosophies of care and approaches (harm reduction, trauma informed care, supporting people through crisis), overdose recognition and response, safety planning, scenarios and debriefs, and a reworking of shelter rules to guest rights and responsibilities. 

  • A 40-Hour training tailored for Cambridge HEART responders around supporting people surviving poverty in public through crises. Training included background and local context around homelessness, drug use, and mental health; philosophies, practice, and approaches;  and crisis response and de-escalation in public spaces including overdose recognition and response, responding to multiple crisis and  perceived crisis, and responding in the presence of police or other entities that police / are tied to the criminal legal system / and cause harm.  

  • An overdose recognition, response, and aftercare training, along with ongoing safety planning and problem solving and continued reworking of policies and procedures with Black and Pink MA, for their recently opened Alexia Norena House, a beautiful reentry house for transgender community members.

Please reach out to Rachel Bolton, MAAP's Program and Outreach Organizer, at rbolton@maapma.org if you or your organization are interested in a training, workshop, or teach-in. 

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