NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – Northampton Mayor Gina-Louise Sciarra announced the hiring of the director of the City’s Department of Health and Human Services Division of Community Care.

Kristin Rhodes has worked for more than 15 years in the Education and Human Services fields and now she will lead an effort to soon provide alternative responses to some public safety calls.

Following a report from the Policing Commission in 2021 that acknowledged racism as a public health crisis, The City of Northampton wanted to make a change. Many advocated for the creation of an agency that could reimagine public safety in the wake of nationwide protests regarding police brutality against minority groups and now according to DHHS Commissioner Merridith O’Leary.

The city is confident that Northampton will benefit from Kristen’s years of experience working with community stakeholders that share a common goal of addressing racial and social inequities.

“We are really of the philosophy that we want to change outcomes so we need to have these services woven into the fabric of Northampton to be able to provide that we are going to have checkpoints with these non-emergency calls that come into our office.” Merridith O’Leary Health & Human Services Commissioner

On April 4th Commissioner O’Leary will introduce Ms. Rhodes to the City Council’s City Services Subcommittee, along with a general update on the Division of Community Care.

Once the DCC is fully formed it is expected to be headquartered at the planned Community Resiliency Hub, at the former First Baptist Church.