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JUST A START INC

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Community & Neighborhood Development, Economic Development, Employment Preparation & Procurement, Homeless & Housing, Housing Development, Construction & Management, Job Training, Youth Development Programs

Mission: JAS is a community development corporation dedicated to building the housing security and economic stability of low- to moderate-income people in Cambridge and nearby communities. Through innovative, comprehensive, and integrated programs, JAS provides and preserves affordable housing, offers education and workforce training for youth and adults, and builds community engagement. JAS’s vision is a better future for all of its constituents; a secure home, a sustaining career, and engagement in the community.

Results: JAS was founded in 1968 as a community revitalization and youth training program focused on improving Cambridge’s Wellington-Harrington neighborhood. The agency was officially incorporated as a multi-service organization for community development in 1971 and has since grown to provide affordable housing programs, a transitional shelter for homeless teens, housing stabilization, and training, education, career development services for low- to moderate-income youth and adults. JAS provides invaluable education and training and housing resources to almost 1,000 people each year with the hopes of increasing their overall economic stability. Summer Youth Enrichment was the original program of JAS, which still operates today, providing teens with both academic support and community service work experience. Since then, programs have expanded to serve youth who have dropped out of high school and low-income adults looking to improve their career pathway. JAS training program participants also provide community service that benefits public housing residents in Cambridge and Chelsea – from beautification projects to full-scale rehabilitation of housing units. JAS also works to stabilize housing for low- to moderate-income people though providing conflict resolution services and trainings, as well as supporting low- to moderate-income homeowners’ renovation projects through low- and no-interest loans and technical assistance. JAS has also developed 22 affordable rental properties and 130 affordable first-time homebuyer units. JAS provides quality rental housing to nearly 2,000 low- to moderate-income people, playing a vital role in maintaining Cambridge’s economic diversity. JAS’s more recent real estate development projects all incorporate environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient features, with two receiving LEED Platinum ratings. JAS also recently incorporated in-house resident services to its programming, providing residents at the organization’s affordable rental properties with educational services, community building activities, and needed referrals to outside community resources.

Target demographics: low- to moderate-income area residents

Direct beneficiaries per year: Approximately 3,000 low- to moderate-income individuals and families

Geographic areas served: Cambridge, MA and surrounding communities

Programs: Affordable rental housing, first-time homebuyer housing, home improvement, housing stabilization/homelessness prevention, education and job training for youth and adults, resident services, and community engagement

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Rating: 4

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