United Way
of Massachusetts Bay
and Merrimack Valley

Posted on November 15, 2016

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito joins United Way and over 1,200 Real Estate Leaders to Support Ending Family Homelessness 

web20161115-091633BOSTON – Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito today joined over 1,200 real estate and building industry professionals in support of United Way’s work to end family homelessness. United Way’s Real Estate and Building Industry Leadership Breakfast, held this morning, is expected to raise $3 million for strategies and programs aimed at preventing homelessness and stabilizing families.

“Housing families in hotels and motels is a human tragedy,” Polito said this morning, noting that under Governor Charles Baker’s administration, the number of families being sheltered in hotels and motels has dropped from 1,500 in January, 2015 to 211 today.  “This trend is heading in the right direction, and we will continue to work every day to identify families facing homelessness, triage them and get them the housing and support they need to be stable and healthy.”

Polito commended the real estate and building industry for their long-time commitment to ending family homelessness through United Way.  “While our administration works to end family homelessness and increase affordable housing, it is great to have partners like United Way,” she said.

Despite the progress in moving families out of hotels and motels, there remain over 3,600 homeless families in Massachusetts in shelters.  And one in every four families in this state is just one major setback away from financial disaster.

“It is going to take all of us – government, businesses, individuals, community-based organizations – working together to find the best programs and policies, and resources, that can be applied at the scale necessary to end family homelessness,” said Michael K. Durkin, President at United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley. “Real, positive solutions are out there and with public will, they can be implemented to make a real, lasting change.”

web20161115-102336-2Today’s event honored Steve Samuels, Founder and Chairman of Samuels & Associates, with United Way’s annual Norman B. Leventhal/Edwin N. Sidman Real Estate and Building Industry Leadership Award. “It is mission critical for us to make communities better than they were when we arrived,” Samuels said.  “I realized you could build and do good at the same time.”

Since its inception, the award has been a tribute to an extraordinary industry leader who has greatly contributed to the community, both professionally and philanthropically.  Samuels was honored for his ability to unite people, businesses and neighborhoods around a common vision and building communities that last. The development of the South Bay Center and revitalization of the Fenway neighborhood were among Samuels’ legacies that were honored.

Today’s event also highlighted a successful program in Lynn.  Michelle D’Amico works at the Lynn Family Success Center as a caseworker who works with homeless students from Lynn Public Schools and their families to help get them into housing and connected to the support services they need to get back on their feet and onto a path of financial stability.

Funded by United Way and the Siemer Institute of Financial Stability, the program is called “Realizing Inter-Generational Success through Education” (RISE). In partnership with Lynn Public Schools and the Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development, RISE has provided over 150 families that are homeless or in unstable housing with intensive support. Case managers work with the schools to identify homeless students, connect their families to financial opportunity services such as housing assistance, job training and financial coaching and provide students with tutoring and out-of-school time services.

“If there is one word I would use to describe homelessness, it would be ‘painful,’ D’Amico said. “We do everything in our power to address all of the issues our clients face and to change the perspective that homelessness is simply about a house.

In 1993, real estate industry leaders Kevin Phelan and the late Ed Sidman founded the United Way Real Estate & Building Industry Leadership Breakfast, bringing together 200 real estate professionals for the inaugural event. Since then, the event has grown to over 1,200 attendees, and has raised a total of more than $42 million to support one of United Way’s key focus areas – preventing family homelessness – and has impacted more than 375,000 families over the years through programs that help build the foundation for successful, stable families and communities.

Event co-chairs were Kathryn Lachelt Brown, Forest City Realty Trust, Anthony Consigli of Consigli Construction and Dan Perruzzi of Margulies Perruzzi Architects.  Premier sponsors of today’s breakfast included Boston Virtual Imaging LLCThe Davis CompaniesElkus Manfredi Architects,  Moriarty, National Development/Charles River Realty Investors, New England Development and Samuels & Associates. Gold sponsors included DLA Piper, HFF, RelatedBeal, Suffolk Construction and The Druker Company.