HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
MATERIAL AId & Meals
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. Housing justice, ending the war on drugs, prison abolition, decriminalization of homelessness, accessible and comprehensive healthcare for all are our work. While doing this work we know people need support in meeting their most basic needs and a space to safely access resources, build community, care for each other, and organize.
MAAP offers unhoused community members material aid, access to resources, organizing opportunities and support. The core of our work is providing a low-threshold space free of criminalization, harassment, and judgement twice a week including regular organizing meetings. At MAAP, people access material aid of their choosing and resources they identify as necessary or important to meet their needs. People are treated with dignity and respect. One participant 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”.
Pre-COVID MAAP provided support to over 2,000 unhoused and underhoused community members each year - with 96 organizations referring participants to MAAP for material aid by appointment. Our core participants and unsheltered community members, who are least connected to systems of support, drop in for support and stayed to use the space to meet their unmet needs. Since March 2020, we have operated outside in the front yard of MAAP and through encampment and street outreach with volunteer support almost entirely from our unhoused organizers. From March - December 2020 we made 4,214 physically distant but emotionally and materially meaningful connections with unhoused community members.
MAAP meets unmet basic needs by providing free material aid:
Gently-used seasonally-appropriate clothing, shoes, and accessories;
Hygiene Kits (toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, deodorant, razors, shavegel etc)
Menstrual Hygiene Kits (tampons, sanitary pads, wipes);
Survival supplies (tents, sleeping bags, yoga mats, camping packs, flashlights, water stations etc);
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.
Pre-COVID MAAP part of MAAP was setup like a store, recipients “shop” independently allowing them to choose items that both meet their needs and suit their taste. Recipients are welcome to a week’s worth of clothing and are able to access MAAP four times a year, or more frequently if their situation changes or they have an emergency. MAAP’s Executive Director and volunteers are available to provide participants with as much or as little assistance as they choose.
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.
While we are operating outside during COVID, recipients are able to place "orders" with organizers who bring out what community members have requested (food, supplies, and clothing).
HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
resources & support
As important, MAAP assists recipients in meeting their self-identified broader needs by providing our up-to -date printed Resource Guides. The Guides include all the information necessary for individuals to access shelters, food pantries, community meals, employment assistance, and more. Guides are free and readily available. Recipients do not need to meet with a caseworker to obtain information, reducing barriers to access of services and enabling individuals to seek support they feel is important or necessary independently. Community members are also welcome to use our laptops or tablets, printer, phone, and printer. MAAP staff, volunteers, and unhoused organizers are available to assist participants in accessing broader resources and can frequently share experiences others have had with them.
HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
organizing & advocacy
MAAP advocates and organizes in in partnership with and is accountable to our unhoused organizers, unhoused and underhoused community members who receive support from MAAP, and the broader community of people who are surviving poverty in the Greater Boston / Cambridge Area. MAAP works with a broad coalition of community members living in poverty, grassroots community organizations and groups, religious institutions, and concerned community members to support leadership by and amplify the self-identified needs and priorities of unhoused and underhoused community members.
Our advocacy occurs on multiple levels. We work with individuals to meet their immediate short-term and long-term needs. We also educate while advocating and organizing for systemic solutions to address the root causes of homelessness, poverty, and inequality. MAAP has and continues to educate for: improved shelter conditions, increased funding for low-income housing and low-threshold housing first initiatives that are outside of the shelter system, methods of upstream homelessness prevention, affordable housing preservation, increased and expanded harm reduction (including safe consumption sites) and voluntary treatment options for community members who use drugs and those who have substance use disorder, and ending the criminalization of homelessness, poverty, and substance use.
It is our goal for community members to gain a deeper understanding of the interconnected systemic issues that are both a cause and product of poverty and homelessness. We hope this will reduce the stigmatization of community members living in poverty, developing strong, inclusive communities, and increased collaborative organizing for meaningful solutions that create lasting systemic change while uplifting the voices of our most vulnerable neighbors.