City of Boston holds first-ever 'housing surge' for homeless veterans
November 4, 2015
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced today that as part of Boston's "Homes for the Brave" initiative, the City this morning hosted its first-ever housing surge for veterans at Pine Street Inn. Representatives from 11 partner agencies gathered for the first time in one place to efficiently assist veterans in connecting with housing and housing resources.
"One of the biggest barriers for a returning veteran is finding safe, affordable housing," said Mayor Walsh. "We must do all that we can to honor the men and women who have served our country, and I thank all of the partners who stepped forward to make this event a success. No veteran should be homeless - and in Boston, we are working to make that a reality."
At today's event, 60 homeless veterans met with representatives from various agencies to better understand the resources available for them to become housed. Veterans were able to speak to the Veterans Administration (VA) to apply for benefits; to the CORI board to learn about their CORI status and how to make appropriate changes to their criminal records; to housing search experts from HomeStart, and work with the VA and the Boston Housing Authority to become certified for housing vouchers that will enable them to afford apartments in the private market.
"We at Pine Street Inn were honored to host today's event," said Lyndia Downie, President of Pine Street Inn. "We were thrilled at the overwhelming response, with veterans lining up at the door before the event started. To see all the partners working together, and to know that many of these veterans are on their way to being housed, is so very gratifying."
To prepare for the event, the City compiled a list of unhoused veterans, and undertook significant outreach to the city's shelters and outreach workers to ensure that homeless veterans were aware of the event. Pine Street Inn provided transportation from the city's shelters so that veterans could easily reach the event, and provided breakfast and coffee to all attendees.
Of the approximately 100 homeless veterans on the list, 60 homeless veterans attended today's event. Thirty-eight personal criminal records were ordered, so that veterans could begin to clear their records to prepare for housing search; 21 veterans were able to order proof of veteran service so that they could become eligible for veterans' benefits. Twenty-eight veterans were enrolled in rapid rehousing programs, and will now be eligible for help with finding housing, supportive services, and short-term funds to help them get into private market housing, such as rental assistance and security deposit assistance. Fourteen veterans left today's event with Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers, which will enable them to immediately begin looking for permanent housing. Nine additional veterans applied for permanent supportive housing programs that do not require VA eligibility.
In July of 2014, Mayor Walsh announced that the City of Boston signed on to the First Lady's Mayoral Challenge to end homelessness among veterans. As part of the "Homes for the Brave" initiative that was launched as a result, the City of Boston has committed to putting a functional end to veterans homelessness by the end of 2015. Putting a functional end to homelessness means that:
- No veteran will be forced to sleep on the streets;
- When a veteran becomes homeless, it is rare and brief; and
- All homeless veterans will be housed or on a pathway to stable housing by the end of the 2015
At the time of the launch, there were 414 homeless veterans in Boston. Since then, 484 homeless veterans have been housed. New veterans continue to enter the system; however, the average length of stay in shelter among veterans has been reduced. At the start of the initiative, 50 percent of homeless veterans left shelter in less than six months; today, that number has increased to 70 percent. The partners who made today's successful veterans surge possible include:
- Boston Housing Authority
- Boston Public Health Commission
- Boston Rescue Mission
- Brighton Marine Health Center
- Children's Services of Roxbury
- City of Boston Department of Neighborhood Development
- City of Boston Office of Health and Human Services
- City of Boston Veterans' Services
- HomeStart, Inc.
- Massachusetts Department of Criminal Justice Information Services
- Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development
- Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services
- Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
- Massachusetts Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness
- New England Center for Homeless Veterans
- Pine Street Inn
- St. Francis House
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness
- Volunteers of America Massachusetts
To learn more, please visit: boston.gov/veterans.