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An Intern’s Insights: Serving the DHCD with a 51a

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world...would do this, it would change the earth.”
― William Faulkner

As many are aware, a 51-A is a report that is filed when a mandated reporter suspects any wrongdoing or harm to a minor. Recently, Rosie’s Place, a well known homeless shelter for women in Boston, decided to hold a march from the state house to the DHCD building, in order to file a symbolic 51-A on the DHCD. This symbolic filing was in response to how the DHCD treats emergency housing for children. The DHCD mandates that families (including those with small children) prove that they are homeless before they are granted shelter. This proof ends up taking many dangerous and completely unacceptable forms for these families. From sleeping on the streets, to their cars, to train stations, these families are being forced into dangerous situations simply to prove that they are homeless enough to deserve shelter. This directly puts children in harm’s way, therefore creating a need for this 51-A to be filed; even symbolically.

Having never attended a march, I did not know what to expect. I was nervous going into it, and was a bit scared. The only “marches” I’ve really seen end up on the news with people being handcuffed or tear-gassed. I had no desire to go down like that, so I was trepidations when I was told that I was going.  When we got there, it seemed like a small turnout. We waited a bit, and the numbers grew quickly. As the numbers grew, the passion in the air grew along with it. The fury, desperation, excitement, and uncertainty of our reception, was almost palpable in the atmosphere.

We were given pamphlets with facts, numbers, the desired outcome of the march, and several “battle cries” that we would chant while marching along our route.  Right at 12:15, we were given instructions over a bullhorn, and the marching began. Shadowed by cops, garnishing intrigue from tourists and business people on their lunch breaks, we marched. We lifted our voices, meekly at first, and began our decent from the State House to the DHCD headquarters on Congress Street. As we went on, and looked around at the passion and desperation in the eyes and the voices being lifted for this cause, and began ourselves to feel the atmosphere, realize that it was less about our discomfort or nervousness, and more about the cause….we began to chant….and mean it.

One might question why BARCC would have been at a march for the cause of homelessness. Isn’t BARCC about counseling those who have lived through sexual violence? Absolutely! Unfortunately however, sexual violence is often a catalyst for homelessness. Case management at BARCC is greatly comprised of helping victims find suitable housing after their attacks.  Finding housing, especially for those who have suffered sexual violence (as the DHCD does not include these victims with domestic abuse victims when it comes to priority housing status), has proved to be one of the toughest tasks that case management deals with.

So, marching to file this symbolic 51-A was extremely important for BARCC, Rosie’s Place, and every single man, woman and child who have ever needed emergency housing. Please find out more about this cause, find out how you can help, and make your voice heard. Only by lifting our voices loud enough, can we hope to make a difference.


Writen by: Kara, a case management intern

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Posted by stacey

Stacey formerly served BARCC as the coordinator for Community Awareness and Outreach. Prior to BARCC, she worked for the Navy as a sexual assault response coordinator and volunteered for the DC Rape Crisis Center. She got involved with anti-rape work during college and has enjoyed doing both direct services and educational work.

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