Boston's Way Home Fund surpasses $10 million two years ahead of goal
Building on his Administration's staunch commitment to ending homelessness and making sure that every person has a place to call home, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that the Boston's Way Home Fund has reached its goal of raising $10 million a full two years ahead of its 2022 goal. Mayor Walsh first announced the Fund during his second inaugural address in January 2018, as a way to support the implementation of the City of Boston's plan to end chronic homelessness. The Fund was charged with raising $10 million over four years, which will be used to create hundreds of new units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.
"We are committed to making sure that every person in our City has a place to call home and build a better life, and this fund will help do just that," said Mayor Walsh. "Reaching this goal in just two years shows the caring spirit and generosity of both businesses and individuals of Boston. It shows what we can accomplish when we all work together. This fund will help us as we move closer to our goal of ending chronic homelessness in the City of Boston."
The Fund was created to supplement the work of Boston's Way Home, the City's action plan to prevent and end veteran and chronic homelessness in Boston. Since the plan was first launched in 2015, the City has housed nearly 2,000 veterans and chronically homeless individuals. Hear the stories of formerly homeless individuals who have received housing through this link.
While traditionally mayors and mayors-elect raise private funds for inauguration celebration costs, in 2018 Mayor Walsh instead encouraged organizations and residents to learn more about the city's work to end chronic homelessness, and consider becoming involved in Boston's Way Home. His personal message can be found here.
The fund was launched in partnership with Pine Street Inn and Bank of America, and was funded through contributions from both individuals and businesses. In November 2019, the Boston Planning & Development Agency approved the proposal by Pine Street Inn and The Community Builders, Inc. to create 202 units of supportive and income-restricted housing at 3368 Washington Street in Jamaica Plain. Additionally, the project was recently recommended by Mayor Walsh and the Community Preservation Committee for a $1.5-million award in the next round of Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding.
"Pine Street Inn is thrilled to be part of this initiative with Mayor Walsh and the City of Boston," said Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director of Pine Street Inn. "We appreciate the Mayor's leadership as we work toward the shared goal of ending homelessness in Boston. We are so very grateful to the corporations and individuals who have stepped up to help solve the challenge of homelessness in our city."
"Housing is critical to helping individuals achieve stability and improve their financial lives," said Miceal Chamberlain, Massachusetts President, Bank of America. "Bank of America is committed to helping advance economic mobility, and this public-private partnership will contribute to the long-term success of our community."
Joining Bank of America as leading donors are Liberty Mutual Insurance, Mass Mutual, MGH/Brigham Health/ Partners HealthCare, and Suffolk Cares. Additional major gifts from corporations and businesses included Boston Medical Center, Cummings Foundation, Davis Companies/Davis Family Foundation, Eastern Bank, Eversource, HYM Investments, John Hancock Marathon Non-Profit Program, Kuehn Charitable Foundation, Related Beal, The Boston Foundation, and The Druker Company. Gifts were also received from more than 400 individuals, led by Inavale Foundation, Christy and Jay Cashman, Jean Tempel, Gordon Family Foundation, Karp Family Foundation, Robert & Cynthia Marr Charitable Foundation, and Cathy Minehan.
"Liberty Mutual was so proud to be an early supporter of Boston's Way Home Fund. This gift allowed us to build on our deep commitment of empowering individuals who are experiencing homelessness. Working together with community leaders and the City, we know we can tackle our community's toughest challenges," said Liberty Mutual Foundation President Melissa MacDonnell.
"I have always admired Pine Street Inn's work in our community," said Ronald M. Druker, President of The Druker Company. "When asked to become involved in raising money for Mayor Walsh's Boston Way Home Fund, created to help fund and develop housing for homeless men and women, I was both honored and excited to become involved. Working with the Mayor and Lyndia Downie at Pine Street has been fulfilling, as we all work together to help to eliminate homelessness in Boston."
"We are proud to partner with Mayor Walsh, Pine Street Inn and with the other donors to the Boston's Way Home Fund, helping Pine Street to continue to expand its focus on permanent housing solutions. Sadly, the same forces that have created such economic vitality in our city and in our industry play a role in making it hard for the members of our community who live on the margins to keep a roof over their heads. Initiatives like this play a key role in addressing this gripping social problem," said Jonathan G. Davis, CEO of the Davis Companies and Trustee of the Davis Family Charitable Foundation.
Since its implementation, Boston's Way Home has resulted in a complete redesign of the way Boston offers services to homeless individuals to offer wraparound services to those who require the additional level of care. By definition, chronically homeless individuals have barriers that create challenges to remaining housed. These barriers can include physical disabilities, substance abuse issues, and mental health issues, among others. As part of Boston's plan, the City is committed to a "Housing First" approach to homelessness, which is based on the belief that everyone should have access to permanent housing regardless of their conditions or circumstances. Rather than relying on shelter as a solution to the issue, Boston has moved toward a system where an individual's entrance into the shelter system is also their entrance to a path toward permanent, stable housing.
The permanent supportive housing that will be created by this funding will combine subsidized rental housing with individualized support services so that individuals with a range of needs can receive the assistance they need to stay housed. The services are designed to build independent living skills and connect people with services such as community-based health care, help with mental health issues, substance use counseling, and employment services.
"I stayed at Pine Street's shelter for four months, and then I moved into their veterans' house after they learned I had served in the military," said Anthony M., a Pine Street tenant. "I've been there for over a year, and with the support I'm receiving, I'm getting my confidence back. I try to accomplish one positive thing every day. With my own room and my own key, my life has changed."
Permanent supportive housing is a nationally-recognized best practice, supported by the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, and by substantial research. In 2015, in a study comparing costs for the same individuals pre- and post-housing placement, the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance found that permanent supportive housing reduced costs to the system by $12,101 per individual.
To further prevent displacement which can lead to homelessness, Mayor Walsh presented his legislative package to the Massachusetts Legislature to protect residents in the City. Among the bills submitted are proposals that would increase housing security and prevent homelessness by helping to protect senior tenants, providing legal representation to low-income tenants and creating additional funding for affordable housing. This work builds off Boston's commitment to ensure all communities have affordable and equitable housing options.
In addition, last November, the administration announced the release of a new action plan, Rising to the Challenge, to prevent and end youth and young adult homelessness in Boston. The Rising to the Challenge plan focuses on gathering data on homeless youth, understanding the current system's capacity, identifying unmet needs of youth and young adults, and designing a plan to address gaps in the emergency assistance system. As an immediate action item towards implementing the plan, Mayor Walsh awarded $4.7 million in grant funds to create 157 new housing opportunities dedicated to serving homeless youth and young adults.