Massachusetts Funding Collaborative Commits $8.4 Million for Basic Needs

The MassNeeds Collaborative has announced a commitment of $8.4 million in support of more than a hundred and fifty nonprofits working to address hunger, housing, heating, and health needs in Massachusetts.

The collaborative — which comprises forty-one corporate, public, and private foundations — more than doubled its 2011-12 commitment of $3.7 million in anticipation of increased demand for assistance this winter season. For example, the Greater Boston Food Bank, which supplies food to five hundred and fifty hunger relief agencies and more than thirty of its own direct service programs in eastern Massachusetts, saw a 23 percent increase in the number of people it served between 2005 and 2009. "We are still collecting data, but evidence suggests double-digit growth has continued since then," said GBFB president Catherine D'Amato. "We remain committed to providing at least one meal a day to every person in need in our service area to end hunger here."

Stubbornly high oil prices and a forecast of colder temperatures also means consumers in Massachusetts could end up paying more to heat their homes this winter, even as state and federal programs designed to provide heating oil subsidies for low-income residents of the state remain under pressure. "Last year [Action for Boston Community Development] received more than twenty-two thousand applications for fuel assistance," said ABCD energy program director Kathy Tobin. "This year, with forty-five thousand residents in danger of losing their unemployment benefits before the New Year, the misery index will be higher than ever. We are very concerned about the desperate situation faced by seniors, children and families struggling to heat their homes through the bitter New England winter."

Founded in 2009 by the Boston, Eos, and Highland Street foundations, MassNeeds is encouraging others to take action as well. Its Web site is a resource for those interested in donating time, talent, and financial resources to organizations that provide services in local communities.