Facebook Unveils a New Era for the News Feed

We’ve already had a ‘snowmageddon’ this year, and a short-lived ‘government shutdownageddon’, but now–with Facebook’s proposed News Feed changes–get ready for the ‘Facebookageddon’.

It is safe to say Facebook had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year in 2017. The company was compelled to testify before Congress about the impact of ads purchased by Russian troll groups intended to sow discord during the 2016 election. It also come under fire over the way they handle ‘fake news’ and what they do about ‘offensive content’. To combat these sticking points Facebook hired thousands of new moderators, and recently rolled out a new system to combat the spread of false news stories from fringe websites. Watching the drama unfold over the last 12 months, it became increasing clear to us that a sea change was in the making over at Facebook. It wasn’t just us: the warning signs were there, and a lot of marketers and paid social advertisers were preparing for the worst.

On January 11th the tides did indeed change at Facebook headquarters as the company unveiled a new era for News Feed. Citing a need to deliver content that “facilitates meaningful social interactions,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the platform would start scoring content from brands and publishers differently. Originally–as we explained in a previous post–Facebook ranked content based on metrics like clicks, comments, likes, shares, and relevance. While that original algorithm has certainly changed over the years–limiting things like text-heavy posts and images–the new update stands as a major step forward in the way they’ve been treating different kinds of content in the News Feed over the last couple of years.

The social media giant announced it will continue to move away from branded content while putting an ever-greater emphasis on posts from family, friends, and other ‘real people’ you’ve interacted with. Facebook hopes that bringing an end to the age of publisher content will offer a much needed boost to the social networking site, but is keenly aware of the damage it will do in the short term. In a statement released on the site, Zuckerberg admitted that he was aware of the negatives, saying “the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” but offering that he expects that time spent on Facebook will be more valuable as a result. Essentially, Facebook is continuing their pivot from quantity to quality, which means much of the content you currently see on your News Feed from outside sources—videos, promotions, and ‘engagement-bait’ posts from publishers—are about to be a much less integral part of your feed.

So what does this mean for businesses, brands, and marketers? Here’s a rundown of what those changes mean to content creators, and how to navigate this digital end times:

The first thing to keep in mind as a publisher or advertiser on Facebook is that no, your career is not over. Things are changing, but keep in mind that Facebook is still the one of the most powerful and influential digital marketing tools out there.

One of the main concerns about Facebook’s new changes is the way it will impact the organic reach of posts created by publishers. Organic reach is how many people naturally see your post in their news feed, and for digital content creators it’s somewhat of the holy grail of content. When someone sees a post organically there is no ‘sponsored’ disclaimer, and the post is integrated into a user’s timeline in the same way posts from friends are. The prospect of organic reach disappearing for published pages is certainly a concern, but if you’ve been in the Facebook marketing game for a while you know organic reach has been in decline for years, as this handy graph explains.

Facebook

Facebook acknowledged this specifically, saying in their announcement that “Pages may see their reach, video watch time and referral traffic decrease.” This isn’t what you want to hear if you’re a publisher, but have hope: not all is lost. Just because organic reach is about to hit all-time lows doesn’t mean you have to give up on Facebook, but you will have to pivot to advertising through the platform.

Boost Posts

One of the biggest recommendations we can offer going forward is the strategic use of the ‘Boost Post’ option. Since the Facebook changes aim to foster quality discussion between real people, engagement is key to a successful post. So, to utilize the post boosting you’ll first want to push out some content and monitor which pieces and formats of content audiences engage with best. Pick your most successful post—the one with the most amount of likes, comments, and shares—and put some money behind it. Facebook will then serve it to users, but because it already had some engagement Facebook will prioritize it because it’s proven to be quality content already.

Facebook Live

If you’ve been on Facebook in the past couple of years you know that video is everywhere. Facebook’s algorithm loves video because audiences respond better to video than any other content medium. Videos also keep users on the site longer because they stop scrolling to watch interesting content, and are more likely to click on related video content. We expect this to change in the new update. Video will still be there, but it won’t be the omnipresent force it has been for the last few years, meaning you can expect drops in views and engagement, even if you’re pushing out awesome videos. One area will probably still be a winner is Facebook Live. Facebook Live drives six times as much engagement as edited video, and users watch live videos three times longer than regular ones.  You can use this to your advantage by using Live for things you usually wouldn’t: live stream your podcast, major announcements, everyday office activities (behind-the scenes), answer questions, talk about breaking news, or anything else you feel could be interesting live. Again, boring content probably won’t drive engagement here, but it can be a great way to get some organic reach if you’ve got something good to say.

Groups

The new update is about fostering meaningful discussion between real users, and Facebook’s Groups boast a high engagement rate because the whole point of Groups is to get like-minded people talking to each other. If you’re already part of some groups you might notice you see more ‘group posts’ than you do posts from Pages you like, and the more comments and likes the post has, the higher it gets ranked. As engagement plummets on publisher pages it might be worth it to create a group for your company, product, or even just a community group for people interested in whatever subject your page is about. If you already have a robust page with regular interaction you’ll definitely want to consider this route—you can channel people from your page to your group, then use that group to post content similar to that of your page, but with a focus on fostering constructive discussions between real people. Once they start talking your engagement will rise and Facebook will begin to place your group posts organically into feeds.

Ads

Just because the News Feed is changing doesn’t mean the ads are. Facebook still has the most robust ad interface in the game, and properly created Facebook ads are still going to be incredibly efficient tools to get yourself or your brand out there. Ad prices are likely to rise with the new algorithm changes, which means it’s more important than ever to use best practices when creating ads. Use short, punchy copy and arresting, low-text graphics. Video ads are always great, but they need to be professionally made. However, even the most beautiful Facebook ad can underperform if it isn’t shown the right people. Audience segments and custom audience lists will become paramount to success. Increased ad prices mean it becomes imperative that you’re serving your content ONLY to segments that are interested in your product. You won’t be selling fidget spinners to nursing home residents, and you won’t get many middle schoolers to sign up for life insurance, so keep in mind exactly who your audience or customers are.

Instagram

Facebook owns Instagram, but they’re different platforms. Instagram has the potential to be a powerful marketing resource once you clear a few hurdles. First, you need really nice looking pictures—if you’re selling a product some iPhone pictures won’t cut it. Consider videos of the product being made, the product in action, and strategic partnerships with trending pages and Instagram thought leaders. The proper use of hashtags can also be a significant boon and can boost views and engagement—much more so than Facebook.

Final Thoughts

While this update certainly isn’t designed to help digital marketers or companies hoping to utilize the immensely powerful tech giant to sell products, the term “Facebookageddon” isn’t completely accurate. Yes, publishers will have to adjust, innovate, branch out to other platforms, and compensate for the loss of organic reach—but all is not lost. Do not abandon ship. Remember, Facebook is still by far the largest social networking site ever, and is still home to active discussion groups, two billion monthly active users, and an incredibly robust advertisement infrastructure. Tactics will have to change, but this is by no means the end of Pages, publisher content, or advertising on Facebook. Have questions? Reach out to us and we can help.

 

St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs Broke Ground on The Union, an Affordable Housing Development in Downtown Boston

On January 16, 2018, St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs broke ground on The Union, an affordable housing redevelopment located at 48 Boylston St. in downtown Boston. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley O.F.M. Cap., Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, and Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin joined President and CEO of St. Francis House Karen LaFrazia, and Planning Office for Urban Affairs President Lisa Alberghini, as well as leaders from business, government and the private sector for the groundbreaking event.

St. Francis House Groundbreaking 1

“The Planning Office for Urban Affairs and St. Francis House working together on this critical affordable housing development will help many people in need, especially the most vulnerable among us,” said Cardinal Seán. “This initiative continues the Archdiocesan commitment to develop communities where all people can live with dignity and respect in homes they can afford. I want to thank Governor Baker, Mayor Walsh, and all who are helping get this housing built.”

The Union is renovating the historic Boston Young Men’s Christian Union building into 46 units of affordable housing – twenty-six units for people who are currently homeless or have been homeless and twenty units for residents with incomes at or below $43,440. This project focuses on providing permanent affordable homes for people of very modest incomes. Additionally, St. Francis House, located across the street, will relocate their administrative offices into the development and will establish a business venture on the first floor of the building to provide job opportunities for the people they serve.

“Creating affordable housing for working families, low-income senior citizens, and the homeless is a top priority for our administration and essential to creating a stronger and more prosperous Commonwealth,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “We look forward to the important housing resources St. Francis House and the Archdiocese will create with the City of Boston through this project and we look forward to working with our colleagues in state and local government to create similar opportunities across the Commonwealth.”

“This project is a strong symbol of how we are working together to end chronic homelessness in Boston and create home for all,” said Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “I thank St. Francis House, the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston and all partners involved for their incredible and compassionate vision that will provide supportive housing and a continuum of services to those in need. The strength of our city’s character is measured by how we treat every single member of our community and this groundbreaking is another step of making sure everyone has a place to call home.”

The 48 Boylston Street property was originally built by the Boston Young Men’s Christian Union in 1875 to pursue its mission of engaging in charitable work, and was operated by the Union for over 150 years. St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs of the Archdiocese are honoring that legacy by continuing to use the property by serving those in need. Both St. Francis House and the Planning Office for Urban Affairs are deeply rooted in a commitment to social justice and serving others and saw an opportunity to join together for this project. This innovative partnership was created with the help of funding from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership.

Financing for The Union includes funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development and MassHousing; the City of Boston Neighborhood Housing Trust and Department of Neighborhood Development; Bank of America Merrill Lynch; the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation; Eastern Bank and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston.

The adaptive reuse of the building will be completed to the to the Secretary of the Interior Standards for Historic Preservation and the development is utilizing both Federal Historic Tax Credits, and Massachusetts State Historic Tax Credits provided by the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Construction is expected to be completed in mid-December 2018.

Welcome Spring 2018 Interns

This spring, we are proud to welcome eleven undergraduate students from Boston College, Boston University, Emmanuel College, Endicott College and Suffolk University. Throughout the semester, these students work closely with specially paired mentors in order to gain first-hand experience into the world of public relations, government relations and marketing. Our interns will become immersed in the public affairs world and will build lasting relationships that will help guide them as they embark on their careers.

Spring 2018 Interns

O’Neill and Associates sends our condolences to the family and friends of Carol Troxell, President of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace Merchants Association who passed away today.

O’Neill and Associates sends our condolences to the family and friends of Carol Troxell, President of the Faneuil Hall Marketplace Merchants Association who passed away today.  Carol was not only a client, but also a friend who worked tirelessly for the Faneuil Hall Marketplace merchants. Carol was instrumental in putting Faneuil Hall Marketplace on the map as a “must do/must see” holiday destination as she helped to conceive “Blink”, the show that featured the region’s largest Christmas Tree (always 85 feet or taller!) with a synchronized light and sound show that attracted thousands of visitors from near and far.

Carol always wanted to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate and she made a big impact through the nonprofit, Pitching in for Kids, that she founded with her business partner Sara Youngelson. Pitching in For Kids provides specifically earmarked grants designed to improve the lives of children across the New England region through sports-related fundraising events and programs.

Carol was committed to helping others in many ways, through her businesses, through her philanthropic work, and through her faith. She will be missed.

CT

Boston-based Law Firm Murphy & King Launches New White Collar Defense Practice

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Murphy & King, Professional Corporation has recently launched a White Collar Defense and Internal Investigation practice and hired veteran attorney Daniel Rabinovitz to lead the new practice group. Rabinovitz has joined Murphy & King as a shareholder of the firm and is an experienced business, securities, and white collar litigation attorney. In this new role, he will work with other Murphy & King attorneys to represent individual and corporate clients by helping them navigate the complex landscape arising out of regulatory and governmental investigations as well as criminal prosecutions.

Harold B. Murphy, shareholder and founder of Murphy & King, says this is the right time to add a new practice area to the firm. “It has been important to us over the past several years to develop a White Collar practice, but we knew we needed the right attorney to lead it. Dan Rabinovitz is that person. He has decades of experience in this area of the law, as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. Above all, he’s a consummate trial lawyer, which allows him to achieve the best results possible for our clients. The fact that he is not just willing but excited to bring a case to trial means that his adversaries are more likely to capitulate. If the government will not capitulate, our White Collar group is ready to attack the government’s case and provide a top notch courtroom defense for our clients. “

Prior to Joining Murphy & King, Rabinovitz specialized in white collar defense at several law firms including the Boston firms of Michaels Ward & Rabinovitz, and Dwyer & Collora, and most recently at Greenberg Traurig. Early in his career, Rabinovitz spent seven years as a criminal prosecutor in the Cook County Attorney’s office in Illinois.

Trying cases has been a passion of Rabinovitz for many years. He is a Program Director for the National Institute of Trial Advocacy’s Boston Trial program, where he leads a week long program assisting less experienced trial attorneys developing their skills—a program that culminates in a mock jury trial.

“I am thrilled that Murphy & King has given me the opportunity to lead this new practice area of the firm,” said Rabinovitz. “Murphy & King has always been passionate about providing their litigation clients with the best defense possible, including taking cases to trial. While I always attempt to resolve a case short of trial, if my adversary is unreasonable, I jumped at the chance to convince a judge or jury to find in favor of my client. That shared philosophy is the cornerstone of why Murphy & King is such a great fit for me and for the firm.” Rabinovitz will also continue to handle complex business litigation and securities related litigation.

Murphy & King’s White Collar Defense and Internal Investigation practice group offers clients representation by attorneys with substantial law enforcement and prosecutorial experience, including Rabinovitz and Daniel J. Dwyer. Daniel Dwyer, a former criminal prosecutor and DEA special agent, has successfully tried cases in a variety of fields and is one of few lawyers nationally to have defeated the bankruptcy estate of Lehman Brothers in its litigation campaign against former managing directors to recover their signing bonuses, and he did so three times. He recently obtained summary judgment in U.S. District Court for an investment firm and its principal on $21 million of $29 million sought by a plaintiff investor. Dwyer also handles selected fiduciary and tort litigation. In 2013, for example, he prevailed at trial for 14 Scituate homeowners in a suit against a neighboring gun range, obtaining a permanent injunction and compensatory damages.

“Our new practice is off to a great start with some of the most experienced trial attorneys in Boston, Dan Rabinovitz and Dan Dwyer who are experts in the field of white collar defense,” said Murphy.

Since 1980, Murphy & King, Professional Corporation has been “unraveling complexity” for its clients through prompt, practical and cost-effective solutions to the legal needs of individuals and businesses. From startup and incorporation, to maintaining day to day operations, to resolving internal and external disputes, Murphy & King attorneys are skilled at effectively and efficiently unraveling the inherent complexities of each client’s business to ensure that it can attain its maximum potential. The firm’s principal areas of practice are Business Litigation, Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring, Corporate and Real Estate Transactions and White Collar Defense and Internal Investigation. The firm’s Bankruptcy and Financial Restructuring Practice received the top tier placement among law firms in Boston in U.S. News’ Best Lawyers 2017 for Bankruptcy.

The Consumer Electronics Show is a Hit in More Ways than One

By: Brook O’Meara-Sayen, Account Coordinator

As the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) wraps up in Las Vegas, I thought I’d offer some take-aways, or things that got me excited as a millennial (spoiler alert: the most exciting thing—and I think I speak for all millennials when I say this—was the laundry folding robot).

CES has come a long way since its 1967 New York inception. That first year the show boasted just 14 exhibitors, advertising the pinnacles of space age technology–mostly radios and TV sets. In keeping with its message of a better future, the event creators took great care to point out “ladies are invited” to the event, betraying that a male dominated tech industry was a problem well before Silicon Valley.

What wild science fiction fantasies would those first attendants have dreamed up if they’d been asked to describe on the products on display 51 years later? Flying cars, perhaps, but what about driverless ones? Robots of some kind, doubtless, but intelligent-pet-dog-robots?

One thing no attendees, past or present, expected was the moment of (literally) blinding irony that occurred on Wednesday, when the power at the Las Vegas Convention Center abruptly went out. While the blackout kept convention-goers in the dark for a few hours it did set Twitter alight, and #CESBlackout was trending for much of the afternoon on Wednesday.

 

Joking aside, what were the main themes from this year’s CES? This year two industries generated a significant amount of buzz: autonomous or smart cars, and AI powered home assistants—and, in some cases, the marriage of the two. This is good news for those of us waiting for every drudgery of life to be automated, but very bad news if you’re a chauffeur or a butler, because you’re probably about to be replaced by a well-crafted set of ones and zeroes.

If CES was any indication, cars are about to get a lot smarter in the next few years, with the proliferation of autonomous technology. Not all of the cars featured in Las Vegas were fully self-driving, with many instead tackling the challenging of combining comforts and user-facing dashboard computers with the capabilities of AIs like Amazon’s Alexa. Garmin had its improved Garmin Speaks Plus, a windshield navigation system featuring Amazon’s game changing AI tech. Several automakers also unveiled their plans for AI-powered interior control centers and autonomous driving.  As assistants proliferate in cars, another feature is set to expand: dashboard displays. Many of the most eye-catching automotive innovations came in the form of massive dash displays, dwarfing any currently marketed built-in display. Byton and Harman both showed off prototypes guaranteed to give even the largest and most bedecked luxury automobile screen-envy.

Cars were not the only everyday electronics getting ‘AI’d’ this year. Qualcomm announced a team-up with Google to get the Google Assistant into a consumer-facing ‘Home Hub’ module. The purpose, as ZDnet writes is to “support rapid production and commercialization of AI-equipped home hub products featuring Google services, such as Cast, TensorFlow, Duo, and Maps.” ZDNet reported Harman and Lenovo are currently working on products that will incorporate Home Hub.  Manufacturing giant Whirlpool announced it would be adding even more smart voice-recognition software to its appliances, as is rival manufacturer LG. GE announced it would let you choose whether you want to order Google Assistant or Alexa to turn down the heat on your new stove.

In total, Google announced 15 new collaborations with appliance manufacturers from Altec Lansing to Sony. The goal, it seems, is to turn the internet of things into a chatroom. Apple announced it would join the home assistant craze with HomePod, a Siri powered smart-speaker, while Samsung promised newer and greater things from its robotic know-it-all Bixby. Even Harman partnered with a company called SmartBeings to create WooHoo, the first “affordable” AI-powered home assistant.

This year almost every product on display was smart in one way or another. Some, like the product mentioned above, make sense as logical next steps for the industry to take. Others, like a vibrating hairbrush, seem to me to take the trend a little far. A voice-activated trashcan makes another excellent addition to the “oh-come-on-you-can-just-do-that-normally” category. A self-servicing kitty-litter box also had a booth—and, I presume—a fair amount of slightly confused guests (no word on whether cats are allowed at CES).

So, what is the takeaway from the 2018 CES? My main takeaway is that 2018 is the year of AI-power, although I have a sneaking suspicion this isn’t the last CES to be dominated by it. CES is also foreshadowing a battle that may not be decided by the time the show reconvenes next year: the Amazon vs. Google smart-assistant war. Alexa currently hoards 70% of the market share on AI home assistants, but with lots of new collaborations and an updated Assistant, the two are setting up for a showdown of Blu-ray vs. HDDVD proportions.

CES foreshadowed something else this year too: you may be the least ‘smart’ thing in your home or car by the time 2020 hits.

Welcome Marissa Choy

Marissa Blog PhotoO’Neill and Associates welcomes Marissa Choy as Account Coordinator in our public relations and communications practice. Marissa will help service clients in the public relations practice.

Before joining O’Neill and Associates, Ms. Choy was the events manager for Crash Line Productions where she led and trained a team of over 50 staff members to ensure excellent service for events that included the Boston Calling Music Festival and Forbes 30 Under 30. Previously, Ms. Choy interned at Rawlins George PR and Marketing in London.

Ms. Choy graduated magna cum laude from Boston University with a Bachelor of Science degree in communication studies — public relations. Ms. Choy was involved with multiple organizations at Boston Univeristy. She served as the executive director for Boston University’s Relay for Life for three years; was the vice president of public relations for the Gamma Phi Beta Sorority; an admission ambassador; and the study abroad column editor for The COMmunicator, the official student publication of the Boston University College of Communication. Originally from San Francisco, Ms. Choy now resides in Brookline.

O’Neill and Associates Expects the Positive Momentum in Boston to Continue with Mayor Walsh’s Second Term

walsh-ceremony

 

Mayor Martin J. Walsh was sworn in to serve a second term.*

 

As Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh begins his second four year term, O’Neill and Associates expects the positive momentum in Boston to continue. We find ways to help the administration’s vision for the City while we work to advance our clients’ goals. January 1st was a historic day of pomp and circumstance as former Vice President Joe Biden was on hand as Mayor Walsh took the oath of office at the historic Cutler Majestic Theater on Tremont St.

Mayor Walsh impressed many insiders throughout the 2017 campaign. He chose not to simply rest on his laurels during the campaign, and showed a tenacious campaign spirit and an organized team in every ward and precinct throughout the City. The results spoke for themselves; Mayor Walsh garnered 66 percent of the vote in his reelection, and he sent a strong message that he is committed to his vision and leading this City into the 2020s.

Boston is a city on the move. Mayor Walsh helped bring General Electric’s world headquarters to the Fort Point Channel. This global corporate giant is already making an impact on the City through its charitable giving. It also has become a fan of the home team by flashing its logo on the jerseys of the Boston Celtics in a partnership in which it will provide the historic team with 21st century data analysis, and partner with the team to support community initiatives.

The development boom has continued and once completed, will be the biggest in the City’s history as Mayor Walsh aims to stabilize housing prices in a City that has continued to see its population rise. The Mayor also has also been praised for his accessibly, his modernization of City Hall and how it tracks progress and civic engagement, and the creation of over 70,000 new jobs.

The Mayor says that his second term will prioritize the implementation of ideas established in his first four years in office. Among the second term goals that Walsh laid out in his inauguration speech were stabilizing the City’s middle-class by improving school curriculums and school buildings, as well as creating more homeownership opportunities and assistance. He also announced an effort to help the most marginalized citizens by housing more homeless people and rebuilding the Long Island Bridge to support and assist those affected by the opioid crisis.

O’Neill and Associates respects the productive relationships we have with the Walsh Administration. The reach and results of our client engagements extend to Boston City Hall and municipal government because of our deep knowledge of the city and our skill sets with municipal relations. Whether it’s cutting through departmental requirements and procedures, earning key approvals at Boards like the Zoning Board of Appeals or Boston Licensing Board or traversing through the arduous processes of the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), O’Neill and Associates is prepared to help make Boston even better. We congratulate Mayor Walsh and look forward to more progress in 2018.

*Image from www.boston.gov

A Faith That Does Justice Holds Community Meeting on Ending Homelessness

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Rosanne Haggerty, Fr. Peter Gyves, Becca Fritz, and Fr. J. Bryan Hehir at AFTDJ’s Community Meeting on Ending Homelessness

What are the three actions that communities can take to end homelessness?  A Faith That Does Justice (AFTDJ) sought an answer to this question at its second Boston Community Meeting on December 19th. According to Rosanne Haggerty, president and CEO of Community Solutions in New York City, communities must know homeless individuals by name and know their specific circumstances. Successful communities adopt a “command center” approach to solving homelessness as they do for coping with natural disasters. Finally, communities need data in real time in order to learn what actions are effective and those that are not.  Haggerty, formerly a McArthur Foundation fellow, was interviewed by Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, the Secretary of Social Services of the Archdiocese of Boston.

AFTDJ is an ecumenical nonprofit working to move people to action in confronting injustices in the United States. Its goal is to create solidarity among people who very often have little contact in contemporary society – those with wealth, education, and privilege and those who are living in poverty and in threatened communities.  Its Community Meetings help educate participants in the challenges facing vulnerable populations and the ways to improve those circumstances.

An estimated 200 attendees – including representatives from Boston Health Care for the Homeless, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, the City of Boston, and several faith traditions – were at the Community Meeting that was held in Boston at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul. Ms. Haggerty recounted her journey from being a developer of supportive housing to becoming a community leader using a systems based approach to ending homelessness.  She believes that communities can solve the problem of homelessness if they do so holistically.  This means breaking down the siloes among the multiple public and private agencies providing programs for the homeless and engaging all members of the community as part of the process.

The meeting also featured a first-person testimonial from Becca, who first became homeless at the age of 15 after her mother became gravely ill and her father took his own life while in the grips of addiction.  Becca described being left to her own devices to find shelter, even though she was a minor. She described her ordeal as a “failure of the system.”  Eventually, after being hospitalized for an eating disorder, she received support from Bridge Over Troubled Waters in Boston.  She is now housed, working and attending school.

AFTDJ was formed in San Diego, where Fr. Peter Gyves, SJ MD, brought together English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities to share experiences and concerns about the direction the country was taking.  Fr. Peter moved the program to Boston last year and expanded its mission. In addition to holding workshops, which bring vulnerable populations and long-time Boston residents together, AFTDJ hosts Community Meetings on topics that impact vulnerable populations, such as immigration and homelessness.  AFTDJ will hold its next Community Meeting in March 2018.  If you are interested in learning more about its work, visit their Website, Like them at Facebook or Follow them on Twitter.