BCF Safety Net Fund
With roots in the community that go back to the 19th century, the Brookline Community Foundation (BCF) has a long history of meeting the needs of Brookline residents, providing aid when and where it is needed most. One of our cornerstone efforts, the BCF Safety Net Fund, provides critical, urgent assistance, helping neighbors in crisis with rent, food, utility bills and other acute financial needs.
Over the past several years we’ve seen an increasing need for support from the BCF Safety Net Fund as many of our residents face unemployment or underemployment, stagnating or declining wages, a scarcity of affordable housing and rising costs for child care and health care. According to BCFs recently published report Understanding Brookline: A Report on Poverty, Brookline's poverty rate from 2000 to 2010 has increased from 9% to 13%, with growing poverty rates in all segments of the population. And, almost one-third of Brookline residents live in households below the 300% poverty threshold, a marker of economic insecurity.
The Safety Net Fund Program
The Safety Net Program, funded by the Brookline Community Foundation and run by the Brookline Center for Community Mental Health, provides assistance to Brookline residents in crisis, covering the costs of rent, utilities, food, and other basic needs. The Safety Net Program provides emergency grants to 800+ residents each year—approximately 11% of Brookline’s low-income population. Individual grants average around $350 per case and have totaled over $1 million since the program and partnership with The Brookline Center was formalized in 2006. Few communities provide a resource like it.
Today, the Safety Net plays an important role in preventing homelessness in Brookline, while also helping individuals and families (including many elderly and disabled residents) maintain heat during the winter months, replace soiled mattresses, meet food and clothing needs, and cover the costs of emergency medical and dental care. Importantly, Safety Net Program’s financial assistance is embedded within a broader support system; The Brookline Center’s case managers pair this immediate financial intervention with an array of therapeutic services and referral to community resources that promote long-term stability and health.
For more information on the BCF Safety Net Fund, please contact Executive Director Jenny Amory at 617-566-4442.
For more information on accessing the services provided by the Safety Net Program please call The Brookline Center at 617-277-8107 and ask for a Safety Net Program staff member.
Safety Net Program Service Examples
A Disabled Senior
A 76 year-old disabled woman who lives in a unit managed by the Brookline Housing Authority contacted the Safety Net Program. She was recovering from hip surgery and had been advised by her visiting nurse that her thirty year old mattress, which was badly torn and so worn that bare springs had pushed through and were exposed, needed to be replaced. The woman, who is on a fixed income, was unable to afford a new mattress, but the Safety Net Program purchased a new one for her and arranged to have the old one taken away. "I feel like a new woman," said the woman following a night on her new mattress.
"I am so thankful for the assistance provided by the Safety Net Program. I never thought I would have a new mattress!"
A Family Impacted by Fire
The Brookline Housing Authority sought assistance for a family of three living in one of their buildings. The family included an elderly father who was undergoing chemotherapy for lung cancer, a disabled adult daughter, and a slightly physically impaired daughter who worked long hours at a minimum wage job. The family had a fire in their apartment, which devastated their unit. Following the fire, BCMHC staff was able to secure assistance from the Red Cross and the Brookline Housing Authority to renovate the apartment. Funding from the Safety Net Program enabled BCMHC staff to hire heavy chore assistance for the laundering and deep cleaning that was essential for the family's safe return to their apartment.
Unemployed Single Mother
A single parent of two small children contacted the Safety Net Program because she was having difficulty making her monthly mortgage payment during a period when she was not receiving unemployment benefits. The Safety Net Program partially paid her mortgage for the month she was behind and eliminated the risk of her losing her housing. She also received a Stop & Shop grocery card and was connected to additional community resources for her family for ongoing food and fuel assistance. Shortly after receiving assistance, the Safety Net Program case manager received a card from the client expressing her many thanks.