By Alan Burke
---- — PEABODY — Corey Jackson is back in the family business.
After a career designing software at Novell, he has returned to his hometown of Peabody to take a job as the new executive director of Citizens for Adequate Housing. Having been on the organization’s board, he now takes the lead position.
“My background is in corporate America,” says Jackson, 36, who worked at Waltham-based Novell following graduation from Syracuse. Yet, he tired of desk-bound work and remembered the satisfaction of helping people. Moreover, he grew up knowing of the need.
The 1983 beginnings of the organization, then called Inn Between, came in a downtown Peabody building right next to Jackson’s house. His family got involved. “The board meetings were in my living room,” he remembered, and as a kid he served tea to the members. As an adult he became a board member himself.
Now, he says, “I’m very excited about the opportunity to lead this organization. ... This feels so good. I go to work every day and I never want to leave. ... It’s definitely where I’m meant to be.”
The agency runs an emergency shelter for families and a sober-living shelter, the Inn Between and Inn Transition, plus permanent affordable housing that can be used either by graduates of their programs or by low-income families.
The need for housing assistance is growing, Jackson says. Mothers and children are being shunted temporarily to motels, a miserable situation for kids, and state money to subsidize apartment rents is “drying up,” he says. “So we’re really focusing on our motel problem.” The agency serves 25 families needing shelter. Statewide, about 1,800 families, meanwhile, are living in motel rooms because they are eligible for shelter assistance, but there is no room for them.
Many of those seeking help, he indicates, are average people suffering as a result of hard times. “It’s not some scary individual that you wouldn’t want living next to you,” he said.
Many of their clients face other problems that contribute to homelessness. “In many cases it’s a domestic abuse situation. ... It will be something that causes a rift with the entire family, and they don’t want anything to do with the mom anymore. ... The moms really have nowhere to turn.”
The agency works with homeless families to help heal family rifts.
Citizens for Adequate Housing works from an annual budget of $1.7 million with all but $400,000 coming from the state. But Jackson stresses the importance of donations and rents as state funding has been dropping.
The organization has 31 employees, many working part time, creating the equivalent of 19 full-time positions. Jackson’s earns $83,000 a year.
He and his wife, Sarah, live in downtown Lynn. Jackson has a background as an actor, and was such a driving force in theater at Peabody High that there’s now an award given in his name.
Later, he helped form the Arts After Hours theater company in Lynn.
His favorite role was in “The Full Monty,” based on a film about unemployed workers performing as male strippers to earn money.
Unemployment is a theme that resonates, he indicates, when he sees so many people who are unable to find work in today's economy and end up homeless.