diana santana cropped red
diana santana cropped red

Hispanic Heritage Month (9/15-10/15) – Featuring Lowell Leader of Excellence ~ Diana Santana

diana santana cropped red
diana santana cropped red

Mes de la Herencia Hispana (15/9-15/10) – Con la líder de excelencia de Lowell ~ Diana Santana

Andres Lopez and son Anthony Lopez
Andres Lopez and son Anthony Lopez

Mes de la Herencia Hispana – Entrevistas con líderes hispanos locales de excelencia

Andres Lopez and son Anthony Lopez
Andres Lopez and son Anthony Lopez

Hispanic Heritage Month – Interviews with Local Hispanic Leaders of Excellence

lowell inn and conference center
lowell inn and conference center

CTI: An opportunity to embrace those seeking refuge in our city

The entrance to UMass Lowell’s Inn and Conference Center, off Warren Street in Downtown Lowell. The ICC, which doubles as a public hotel, closed its reservation system to bookings as of Sept. 13, and students who were assigned to the ICC for the upcoming semester are being relocated to other dorms to make way for housing of migrant families and pregnant women fleeing violence and unrest in Haiti and Venezuela. (Melanie Gilbert/Lowell Sun)

By KAREN FREDERICK and CARL HOWELL |
September 10, 2023 at 2:54 a.m.

Community Teamwork has been a steadfast pillar of support in our community, providing homeless shelters for families since 1983, when the Commonwealth became a right-to-shelter state for families facing housing insecurity and as such, it has the legal obligation to offer shelter to residents who qualify for the assistance.

Over the past four decades, we have assisted thousands of families, not just from Lowell but also from towns all across the Commonwealth. In addition, we have welcomed hundreds of migrant, immigrant, and refugee individuals and families who arrived in Lowell seeking a better life, providing not only shelter but services beyond emergency housing, such as rental assistance, child care, and job search and support, to name a few.

As we look ahead to the possible transformation of the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s Inn & Conference (ICC) Center into a homeless shelter for families, there has been a cloud of speculation about who will arrive and what that will mean for our city. Some voices are spreading misinformation, fueling fear and mistrust. We, instead, see this as an opportunity to embrace those who are seeking refuge in our city as we have done in the past. Lowell is not shouldering a burden that others have refused. In fact, roughly 80 other communities across the state have also stepped up and responded to Governor Healey’s State of Emergency by establishing additional shelter locations in the form of hotels or larger congregate settings. When and if the ICC is transformed into a shelter, it will serve as a haven for all families within the Commonwealth who are housing insecure, including those right here in Lowell. This is not only a migrant issue. It is a housing and homelessness issue.

The data says it all. From last year to this year the number of homeless families has doubled, from just over 3,000 families statewide to over 6,000. The Commonwealth has also gone from two hotel sites statewide to more than 80 hotels now being used across the state to meet the growing instability of housing in the state. Family homelessness is increasing for ALL residents of Massachusetts because of the lack of affordable housing units for working families and middle- and lower-class households are being forced out of rental markets at rapid rates. This has been further exacerbated since the pandemic. Since October 2022, Community Teamwork alone has expanded its family shelter portfolio by 113 families with fewer than half of these families being migrant families. Many families are long-time residents of Massachusetts, including our neighbors, family members, young adults, and others who are being pushed out of homes due to the lack of affordable housing.

We know that, more than any other factor, the drastic increase in housing costs and the lack of production of safe, affordable housing is a cause of homelessness. Community Teamwork and other partner organizations, have been publicly ringing the alarm bell on the housing crisis since before the pandemic. Along with these partners, we committed to working with our community leaders and developers to create 300 low threshold units of housing to try to alleviate homelessness in Greater Lowell, the minimum amount of units to provide homes for the current unhoused population. We now have more than 50 units in production but need many more to address this crisis. (Please see Let’s Talk About Housing website for more information, commteam.org/talkabouthousing)

Lowell has proudly worn the badge of a Gateway City, embracing its rich diversity and heritage of welcoming new cultures. With that said, we recognize that recent waves of migrant families coming from places like Haiti and Venezuela have raised concerns about the potential for a significant influx of newcomers and what that will impose upon the city and city resources. We acknowledge the challenges that come with hosting new families and we fully support the request for additional State funding for these added expenses. Nevertheless, we have unwavering faith in our community’s ability to come together and create a safe and supportive environment for those children, parents, and families who arrive in our city.

Lowell is a well-resourced city, with strong non-profits, public private partnerships and a history of collaboration stands in a much stronger position than many other smaller Massachusetts cities and towns to welcome families — all families — who are experiencing housing insecurity. It is also important to remember that Lowell has historically welcomed migrants from all parts of the world and we have seen how successful these immigrants have become and more importantly, how critical they are to the success of our city.

Karen Frederick, Chief Executive Officer, Community Teamwork
Carl Howell, Chief Program Officer, Community Teamwork

CharlesSmith CTI x
CharlesSmith CTI x

U.S. Small Business Administration to Fund Entrepreneurship Center

The SBA has awarded Community Teamwork Inc. with $200K through the PRIME Grant

Lowell, MA – The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently awarded Community Teamwork Inc. $200K for the sake of funding its Entrepreneurship Center. The funding will allow staff of the Entrepreneurship Center to work with entrepreneurs on developing their financial capacity to increase their business viability by hosting trainings, seminars, and peer-to-peer learning. Staff will also use the funding to offer expanded opportunities to constituents of the center to access technical assistance services in a linguistically accessible and culturally competent design.

The Entrepreneurship Center, formerly known as the Merrimack Valley Small Business Center, was founded in 1998 to provide technical assistance for low and very low-income entrepreneurs to help them create, sustain and grow micro-enterprises. Since its rebranding into the Entrepreneurship Center in 2019, its services have expanded through out Middlesex and Essex County, and refocused its program offerings and service model to better serve the diverse needs of its disadvantaged micro-enterprise clients.

The Prime Grant was created as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999, also known as the PRIME Act. This act authorized the SBA to establish a program for the purposes of providing training and technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs, providing training and capacity building assistance to microenterprise development organizations (MDOs) and programs, aiding in research and development of best practices for microenterprise and technical assistance programs for disadvantaged entrepreneurs, and for other activities as determined by the SBA.

“We are thrilled to receive this SBA Prime grant. It will enable us to expand our work to help our local small businesses, especially those who are low income and disadvantaged, thrive in our community”, stated Charles Smith, Director of the Entrepreneurship Center.

The SBA was founded back in 1953 under the administration of President Eisenhower alongside the signing of the Small Business Act. It offers programs that cover federal contracting and business development, entrepreneurial development, and lending services, all for the sake of supporting small businesses across the country.

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About Community Teamwork

Established in 1965, Community Teamwork is a non-profit Community Action Agency (CAA) serving more than 55,000 individuals and families in the City of Lowell and the seven surrounding towns of Billerica, Chelmsford, Dracut, Dunstable, Tewksbury, Tyngsboro, and Westford. Community Teamwork also serves as a Community Development Corporation and as the Regional Housing Agency for the Merrimack Valley and the rest of the Northeastern Massachusetts, including 71 cities and towns inclusive of the North Shore and Cape Ann. Community Teamwork is a catalyst for social change. We strengthen communities and reduce poverty by delivering vital services and collaborating with key stakeholders to create housing, education and economic opportunities. Our vision is a community whose institutions, systems, and people support everyone’s opportunity to thrive. www.commteam.org

NancyVanAlst CTI x web
NancyVanAlst CTI x web

Community Teamwork Promotes Nancy Van Alst to Chief Financial Officer

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download

Community Teamwork responds to MA State of Emergency

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DSC

July Newsletter

boweshulman photo
boweshulman photo

CTI Celebrates Local LGBTQ+ Leaders of Excellence ~ Mary and Dorene Bowe-Shulman