HOW MAAP SUPPORTS OUR COMMUNITY:
Material Aid & direct support
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 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 unsheltered on the street, dropped in for support and stayed to use the space to meet some of their most basic 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 2020 - December 2021 we made over 8,000 physically distant but emotionally and materially meaningful connections with unhoused and underhoused community members.
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)
Menstrual Hygiene Kits
Wound Care 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.
Pre-COVID MAAP 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. Participants 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. MAAP’s staff, volunteers, and unhoused organizers were available to provide participants with as much or as little assistance as they chose.
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.
As we are not able to operate in our space during COVID, we have pivoted operations outside to our front yard. 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.
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 carceral shelter system, methods of upstream homelessness prevention, affordable housing preservation, increased and expanded harm reduction (including supervised 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.