Boston to participate in 'House America' initiative to end homelessness
Today, Mayor Kim Janey joined other cities and municipalities to announce Boston’s commitment to participate in President Biden’s House America program to prevent homelessness. House America is the federal government’s direct response to the crisis of housing insecurity. In March, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) released its 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report Part 1 to Congress, which found that more than 580,000 people across the country experienced homelessness in the United States on a single night in January 2020, prior to the pandemic. COVID-19 has created greater urgency to address homelessness, given economic disparities and the heightened health risks faced by people experiencing homelessness. However, COVID-19 has slowed re-housing activities due to capacity issues and impacts on rental market vacancies.
“It is crucial that we ensure that residents of Boston have safe, stable housing especially during this time of global pandemic,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “I am proud to announce that the City of Boston will be joining the call to action laid out by President Biden and HUD Secretary Fudge. This support from the federal government builds on the progress Boston is already making with our Housing Stability Agenda, making sure our most vulnerable residents are protected.”
House America calls on state, tribal, and local leaders to partner with HUD to use American Rescue Plan funding, as well as other resources to re-house individuals experiencing homelessness. The City of Boston is committing to rehouse 1,100 households that have experienced or will experience homelessness between now and December 31, 2022. During this same period, Boston has committed to fund the creation of 650 units of housing for people facing housing insecurity. The majority of this housing will be paired with supportive services to allow individuals to remain stably housed.
House America affirms the Housing First approach, and seeks to have new units of affordable housing, including new permanent supportive housing units, added to the development pipeline by no later than December 31, 2022.
“The health and well-being of individuals and families and the economic security of our communities is at stake,” said Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “It’s going to take government working at all levels and local collaboration to address homelessness and to guarantee housing as a right for every American. Together, let’s House America.”
The City of Boston’s collaborative work to house, shelter, and keep homeless individuals and families safe has continued throughout the pandemic. To help keep people in their homes, Mayor Janey announced the Housing Stability Agenda in August. This action created a citywide moratorium and plans for a Foreclosure Prevention Fund.
Since the launch of Rising to the Challenge: Boston's Plan to Prevent and End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness in December 2019, the City of Boston has housed more than 156 youth between the ages of 18 and 24 years old experiencing homelessness. This goal was achieved despite the economic downturn associated with the pandemic.
Boston’s Way Home, the City’s plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness utilizes the housing first approach, an evidence-based process premised on the value that everyone is deserving of permanent and stable housing without preconditions like sobriety or treatment. Since the plan’s launch in 2015, City agencies and community partners have dramatically redesigned the way Boston responds to individuals experiencing homelessness, increasing resources devoted to housing, prioritizing the most vulnerable, and deploying new technologies to efficiently match homeless individuals with housing.
Since the launch of Boston’s Way Home, the City has:
- Housed more than 1,094 chronically homeless individuals, representing more than 7,000 years of homelessness ended. (The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines chronically homeless individuals as adults with a disability who have been either living in an emergency shelter or a place not meant for human habitation continuously for 12 months or more, or who have had four occasions of homelessness in the past three years that total 12 months or more.)
- Reduced chronic homelessness in Boston by 19 percent since 2016, at a time when chronic homelessness has been rising nationally
- Housed more than 1,500 homeless veterans and ended chronic homelessness among veterans
- Reduced the number of homeless veterans in Boston on a single night by 32 percent since 2014
- Reached the goal of raising more than $10 million for the Boston’s Way Home Fund to build 200 new units of supportive, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.
The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is administering Boston’s Rental Relief Fund. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division works with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.