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Mayor Walsh announces creation of Boston's Way Home Fund

January 1, 2018

Neighborhood Development

Published by:

Neighborhood Development

The fund will raise $10 million to create 200 units of permanent supportive housing for chronically homeless individuals.

In his second inaugural address, Mayor Martin J. Walsh will today announce the establishment of the Boston's Way Home Fund, which will support the City of Boston's plan to end chronic homelessness. The fund will raise $10 million over the course of four years, which will be used to create 200 new units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for chronically homeless men and women.

"As Bostonians, we know that the thing we love celebrating most is our spirit, our resilience, and each other," said Mayor Walsh. "We are committed to making sure that every person in our City has a place to call their home and build a better life, and this new fund will help do just that. People often ask what they can do to help -- I encourage everyone to learn more about Boston's Way Home Fund, and invite every organization and individual to join us as we move closer to our goal of ending chronic homelessness in the City of Boston."

While traditionally mayors and mayors-elect raise private funds for inauguration celebration costs, Mayor Walsh will instead encourage organizations and residents to learn more about the city's work to end chronic homelessness, and consider becoming involved in Boston's Way Home. Mayor Walsh's personal message can be found here.

The fund has been launched in partnership with Pine Street Inn and Bank of America. Bank of America has generously kicked off the Fund with a $250,000 donation.

"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. "As Pine Street approaches our 50th anniversary in 2019, we appreciate the Mayor's leadership as we work toward the shared goal of ending homelessness in Boston."

"Safe, supportive housing is fundamental to achieving economic self-sufficiency, and a core pillar of Bank of America's commitment to Boston's continued growth as a thriving, sustainable city," said Miceal Chamberlain, Massachusetts President for Bank of America. "We're honored to work with Mayor Walsh and our long-standing partners, Pine Street Inn, to help establish this critical Fund to provide affordable homes for those who need them most."

In his January 2016 State of the City, Mayor Walsh announced Boston had ended chronic veteran homelessness; to date, nearly 850 homeless veterans have been housed. In 2016, the City scaled up its efforts to end chronic homelessness; since January of 2016, 425 chronically homeless individuals have been housed, representing more than 3,000 years of homelessness ended.

Since its implementation, Boston's Way Home has also resulted in a complete redesign of the way Boston offers services to homeless individuals. Rather than counting on shelter as the solution to the issue, Boston has moved toward a housing-first model, where an individual's entrance into the shelter system is also their entrance to a path toward permanent, stable housing.

Creating new permanent supportive housing is an important component of Boston's Way Home, the City's plan to end chronic homelessness. Permanent supportive housing combines subsidized rental housing with individualized support services so that people with complex issues can receive the assistance they need to stay housed. The services are designed to build independent living skills and to connect people with services such as community-based health care, help with mental health issues, substance use counseling, and employment services.

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. Without additional assistance, some chronically homeless men and women are not able to maintain their homes.

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 homeless individual.

Boston's Way Home calls for the creation of an additional 200 new permanent supportive housing units. To determine the appropriate number of new permanent supportive housing units, during the development of Boston's Way Home, the City's Department of Neighborhood Development contracted the Corporation for Supportive Housing to calculate the need for permanent supporting housing and other types of interventions in Boston.

The $10 million raised from the fund is expected to leverage a significant public and private investment.