Mayor Walsh Celebrates Opening of New Homeless Shelter That Will Support Pathways to Permanent Housing

Releases New Report to End Chronic, Veteran Homelessness

BOSTON - Thursday, June 25, 2015 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today officially opened the City's new homeless shelter at 112 Southampton Street and announced the release of An Action Plan to End Chronic and Veteran Homelessness, the result of the Mayor's Task Force on Individual Homelessness.

The opening of the shelter marks the completion of Phase II of the project at 112 Southampton Street and will enable the site to provide over 400 emergency shelter beds on a nightly basis.  

In January, 100 beds were opened at the Southampton Street shelter after the Mayor ordered an expedited process following the necessary closure of the Long Island Bridge. An additional 150 beds on the first floor of Southampton Street opened in April, and 190 more are available this week.

The third phase of the project, to be completed later this year, will add a kitchen and clinic space to the shelter.

The renovated building, completed in fewer than six months, will provide space for both the emergency shelter as well as two of the city's transitional housing programs, Project SOAR and Safe Harbor. Reopening this shelter and the transitional beds restores the services that the city offered before the Long Island Bridge closure. Temporary shelter beds located at the South End Fitness Center, Boston Rescue Mission and Boston's Health Care for the Homeless that have been operating since October, were closed this week.   

"This project is a testament to what can be established when we work together to tackle our City's biggest challenges," said Mayor Walsh. "This is not just a shelter - but a front door to counseling, support and permanent housing. It is a critical part of our strategy to end veteran homelessness this year, and chronic homelessness by 2018. Together, we can make Boston a city where no one is left behind- no matter your income, your past, your struggles." 

"This building represents Mayor Walsh's belief that all people should be treated with respect and dignity and that everyone deserves opportunities to succeed," said Chief of Health and Human Services Felix Arroyo. "This shelter, and the programs it will house, will lead to a new beginning for all who enter it."

The Southampton Street shelter beds will be available to men, and staff at the facility will be screening individuals prior to allowing entry to the shelter. The shelter design also allows for a dedicated space to shelter homeless young adults and transgender guests. The Woods-Mullen shelter, which has served as a coed facility, will be converted to an all-women's shelter. The conversion of Woods-Mullen will provide a safer, more supportive shelter environment for homeless women where programming is tailored to meet their needs. Both shelters will be open on a year-round basis during the day, which will enable guests to receive case management, housing search assistance and health care services during the daytime hours.   

Mayor Releases An Action Plan to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness

Mayor Walsh today also released  An Action Plan to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness, the results of months of work by the Mayor's Task Force on Individual Homelessness.

The Task Force identified that Boston has one of the lowest rates of urban, unsheltered street homelessness in the United States, as a result of steadily increasing the number of housing units for homeless individuals by targeting resources and committing to new investments.

In the last two years:

  • 191 long term shelter stayers have been housed
  • 391 homeless individuals have been rapidly rehoused
  • 67 highly vulnerable individuals on the street have been housed
  • 640 homeless veteran have been housed

Emergency department use has been reduced 54 percent among a cohort of high utilizers of emergency services after permanent supportive housing placement; nights hospitalized were reduced by 31 percent

Despite these efforts, the demand for shelter services has recently increased. To truly solve homelessness in Boston, it is imperative for the City and its partner providers to implement critical system reforms.

The action plan will work to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2018. The goals will require a complete transformation of the homeless response system and will impact outcomes across the system for the entire individual homeless population.

The Action Plan will redesign Boston's homelessness response system by focusing more on technology alongside the components of Front Door Triage, Coordinated Access, Rapid Rehousing, and Permanent Supportive Housing:

  • Front Door Triage is the immediate response to homeless individuals upon entry into the homeless system, including individuals on the street or entering emergency shelter. It will have special focus on unaccompanied youth and young adults; untreated substance use disorders; discharge planning; and street outreach.
  • Coordinated Access is a centralized online data system that matches homeless individuals to housing vacancies based on need. The Coordinated Access system will centralize vacancies to permanent supportive housing units and will use data to drive outcomes.
  • Rapid Rehousing is an approach that moves homeless households to housing as quickly as possible by providing the amount, type and duration of assistance needed to stabilize the household, such as employment opportunities, help with increasing household income and securing benefits.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing combines subsidized rental housing with individualized support services. It is an intensive intervention typically reserved for individuals with complex barriers who need a high level of support in order to achieve stability in housing. The City will target 950 Permanent Supportive Housing units to the most vulnerable; of those 950 units, 750 will become available through turn-over of existing permanent supportive housing units. The City will create an additional 200 new units of very low-barrier permanent supportive housing; create strategies to help those who no longer need services to move on; revise housing policies that create barriers to housing; and help maximize opportunities to provide services through MassHealth.

The approximate total amount of existing resources dedicated to meeting the goals of this plan over three years is $60.9 million. The total estimated amount of new resources needed over three years is $12.7 million, which will be secured through a variety of public and private partners.

In November, the Mayor announced the formation of the Mayor's Task Force on Individual Homelessness, a group charged with examining Boston's current shelter system and available support services, and outlining a strategy that will put homeless individuals on a path to permanent housing.

The task force included a diverse group of providers, the business community, foundations and philanthropic organizations, experts in innovation and analytics, subject matter experts from City staff and clients of the city's homeless services.

The task force was co-chaired by Sheila Dillon, Chief of Housing, and Felix Arroyo, Chief of Health and Human Services, and included representatives from the Boston Public Health Commission, Boston Police Department, Boston Housing Authority and the Mayor's Office of New Urban Mechanics.

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