More than 100 homeless youth and young adults housed since 2019
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced that since the launch of Rising to the Challenge: Boston's Plan to Prevent and End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness in 2019, the City of Boston has housed more than 100 youth between the ages of 18 and 24 years old experiencing homelessness. As part of the continued effort to end youth homelessness and support youth at risk of becoming homeless, the Mayor also announced $335,000 to support career training and college courses for 40 young people aged 18-24 at risk of homelessness.
"No young person should struggle because of the lack of a safe and stable place to live," said Mayor Walsh. "I am proud of this significant milestone and thank the many partners across Boston who share our commitment to expanding housing opportunities for our young people. But there is more work to do, and that's why we are continuing to invest in pathways for young people to access career and education opportunities."
More than 100 Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness Housed
Launched in 2019, Rising to the Challenge is part of Boston's Way Home, the Walsh Administration's plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness. Rising to the Challenge is the result of input from 240 community members representing more than 110 public and private organizations across Boston together with the City's Youth Action Board, an advisory group of youth and young adults who have experienced homelessness or housing instability. The plan calls for establishing a more collaborative network of stakeholders, including young people, to provide more youth-centric support in a number of areas. The implementation includes creating 285 new housing opportunities, eliminating barriers between systems of care, such as housing, education, employment, and health, and giving youth-serving organizations training and tools to support young people in their individual development.
"During my time as a BPS teacher, I taught students facing housing insecurity," said Councilor Essaibi-George. "In addition to finding affordable housing, access to employment opportunities was a major barrier and often created a cycle of homelessness. This investment is an important step forward to provide our young people with both the stable housing and employment pathways they need to end homelessness and build lifelong success."
"The Rising to the Challenge plan shows an understanding that the streets are not safe for young people at night," said the Boston Youth Action Board. "It means a lot to us to know that we are a priority, and that the City of Boston is making a long-term commitment to build a better future for us and our peers. It makes us feel hopeful, and we know that lives will be saved."
The City's Department of Neighborhood Development, in partnership with the Mayor's Office of Health & Human Services, and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, are leading the implementation of the plan to build system-wide solutions for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability in Boston.
This year, new pathways to housing opportunities have been created for Boston Public Schools students experiencing homelessness, and for young adults fleeing an unsafe home or a dangerous living situation. In addition, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City partnered with Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Emerson College to create temporary additional shelter beds, keeping young adults safe and socially distant. Boston provides immediate shelter to any youth or young adult on the street who wants it.
In 2021, through Rising to the Challenge, the City will be adding 130 new housing opportunities dedicated to youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. These housing opportunities combine housing search services, move-in and rental assistance, and case management. Young adults will have a choice in where they live, sign their own lease, and have services tailored to their unique needs so they are able to stay housed. The City will also be launching a flexible financial assistance program for young adults who are unstably housed and ineligible for other housing assistance and an emergency assistance program for young people fleeing violence.
"With the help and support from the team at the Ecumenical Social Action Committee
and Metro Housing Boston, I have found safe housing and a bright future," said Evan, 23 years old, housed in 2020. "I'm ready to start my next chapter in life."
Young people who have been housed through these resources have access to individualized supportive services and rental assistance. Services are designed to aid young people in developing ties in their community, connecting them to other supports, like employment, education, or health care and building skills so they can stay in their homes and not have to experience homelessness again.
$335,000 investment to support 40 youth facing homelessness with college courses and career training
Beginning January 2021, the City of Boston will invest $335,000, partially funded through reallocated funds from the Boston Police Department overtime budget, to support virtual college courses, skills training programs, stipends, individual coaching, and workshops on life- and job-preparedness for 40 young people aged 18-24 who recently exited homelessness and were housed through the Rising to the Challenge effort.
The initiative, led by the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development, will collaborate closely with the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) and the Mayor's Office of Health & Human Services to identify youth. Participants will join either a career cohort or a college course, modeled after virtual programming piloted during the City's recent Summer Youth Employment Program.
The career cohort will place participants into industry-themed groups, composed of a dozen or more students, and will meet virtually with their instructor two hours per day, three days per week, for 12 weeks to learn skills specific to a particular sector, such as media arts or cosmetology. The training will include virtual instruction as well as at-home, hands-on activities made possible by industry-specific toolkits (for example, cooking supplies for a culinary cohort).
Participants who take a college class can earn college credits for coursework in fields such as technology, social sciences, business, or communications. These classes require a commitment of 12-15 hours per week over the 20-week spring semester. All participants will earn a $250 weekly stipend to cover day-to-day needs and will receive laptops or wifi hotspots, if necessary, to complete virtual work. Youth will also meet with a career coach and case manager who can help them stay on track to meet their goals.
A number of partner organizations have come together to provide additional support for these young adults:
- Mentoring opportunities from YOU Boston and Mass Mentoring Partnership
- Financial workshops from the Mayor's Office of Financial Empowerment
- Healthy relationships workshops from One Love Foundation
- Career workshops from Rising Together
- Job readiness curriculum from Signal Success
The announcements today build on additional work underway to support youth experiencing homelessness in Boston:
- The Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services is implementing a series of virtual trainings focused on equipping homeless and youth service providers with additional skills and tools for serving youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. Training topics will include information on positive youth development, trauma-informed care, behavioral health, substance use, and human trafficking. Please see details on dates here, and sign up here to receive updates.
- More Than Words (MTW) received a grant from the Boston Resiliency Fund to provide youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, from the ages of 16-24 years old, with $100 direct cash transfers to provide for basic needs during COVID-19.
- The Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services led a Thanksgiving Care Package Giveaway at More Than Words the day before Thanksgiving, on Wednesday, November 25th from 12:00 PM - 5:00 PM. Care packages included a boxed turkey dinner from Breaktime Cafe, a backpack and phone charger from the Office of Emergency Management, and hygiene supplies from Hope and Comfort including hand sanitizer, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, and deodorant.
For more information on the City's efforts to assist youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, please visit boston.gov/youth-homelessness.About the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND)
The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing the homeless, 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 (OHS) has reopened the Rental Relief Fund which provides rental assistance to residents experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic. The OHS is also conducting tenant's rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. 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 is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.About the Mayor's Office of Workforce Development
The Mayor's Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Planning & Development Agency that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city's economic vitality and future. OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit OWD.Boston.Gov to learn more about OWD's work.About the Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services
The Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the largest cabinet in the City with ten departments and offices that span work across multiple communities all striving to create a healthier Boston. Committed to promoting and ensuring the health and well-being of the City's most vulnerable residents, HHS provides a wide array of critical programs and services all while advocating for systemic change to tackle root causes of some of our most pressing challenges in the City. HHS departments work with and for the populations with the greatest needs in our city, including Veterans, youth, persons with disabilities and our aging residents.