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New PAIR initiative to support individuals in recovery

The public-private partnership is the first program of its kind in the United States.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services today announced the launch of the PAIR Initiative (Personal Advancement for Individuals in Recovery), a seed grant program that will consist of grants to individuals in recovery for personal wraparound services needed to maintain and continue recovery. The PAIR Initiative is a partnership between the City of Boston, Warren and Doris Buffett's Letters Foundation, and the Gavin Foundation, and is the first program of its kind in the United States.

The Letters Foundation will be answering requests from individuals in recovery at the Gavin Foundation to support their housing, educational and workforce development goals. The Letters Foundation has committed $100,000 to this pilot, and will give approved funds directly to the vendor or program on behalf of the participant. This initiative is designed for low-income or unstably housed individuals in early recovery, many of whom will be reentering the community from correctional facilities.

Image for mayor walsh announced the pair initiative at an event with other local officials

"It's hard to maintain your recovery if you don't have a roof over your head, a meaningful job, or opportunities for personal advancement," said Mayor Walsh. "The PAIR initiative will allow us to better support people in recovery as they get their feet on the ground. Those in recovery are taking their lives one day at a time -- but we need to ensure they have access to critical services like rent, education and training. Together with our partners, and this new program, we will continue our work to end addiction in our City."

While Massachusetts has a robust substance use treatment system, many individuals struggle to maintain their recovery due to economic instability or a lack of meaningful advancement opportunities. The 2016 US Surgeon General's report, Facing Addiction in America, emphasizes the importance of individuals in substance use recovery developing "Recovery Capital" - which includes "housing, education, employment, and social resources" - as a central piece of maintaining their recovery. The PAIR initiative will build this Recovery Capital for those entering the recovery community.

Participants will be referred and comprehensively supported by the Gavin Foundation's full continuum of treatment and recovery support services, ranging from acute services (detox) to sober housing, with additional support provided by the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services. Gavin case management staff will refer individuals, who have demonstrated a consistent commitment to their recovery, to the PAIR Initiative after creating an individualized action plan for each participant. Applicants will then write a personalized letter explaining their specific hardship and request seed grant funding for a specific housing, workforce, or education goal that will alleviate their stated hardship.

Upon reviewing the materials, Letters will evaluate Gavin's referrals and fund approved requests on the applicant's behalf directly (i.e. assisting an individual with their rent by paying the landlord directly; directly purchasing a textbook for a college or training course). Timelines and grant amounts will vary dependent on the individual's needs and goals. Gavin staff will support the grant recipient throughout this process and help ensure that they are responsibly meeting their individualized action plan.       

The Mayor's Office of Recovery Services will provide additional support, including:

  • Overall coordination for the pilot initiative;
  • Program evaluation;
  • Customized City-led workshops where participants can access additional resources from relevant City departments and community providers - especially departments and providers specializing in housing, workforce development, and education.

"Doris Buffett has always invested in individuals motivated to get back on their feet, and offered support when there was nowhere else to turn," said Leah Hong, Associate Director of Community Impact of the Letters Foundation. "We are proud to partner with the Gavin Foundation and Mayor's Office of Recovery Services to support these individuals, and believe these small, but transformative grants will allow participants to move forward in their lives with dignity."

"Gavin Foundation is grateful to the Mayor Office of Recovery Services for coordinating this project and the Letters Foundation for initiating PAIR," said John McGahan, President and CEO of the Gavin Foundation. "This project will reduce obstacles that can lead to relapse, recidivism and despair. The PAIR initiative will provide critical wrap around services such as; housing assistance, educational and employment support that complement treatment and assist in taking our clients from darkness to dignity."

About the Mayor's Office of Recovery Services

The Mayor's Office of Recovery Services (ORS), created by Mayor Walsh in 2015, is the first municipal recovery office in the United States. The office utilizes a highly localized, collaborative approach to actively address substance use and addiction in Boston's neighborhoods. Working in tandem with all City of Boston departments, ORS builds unique partnerships with State & Federal entities, local service providers, and the recovery community to coordinate citywide recovery strategies.

About the Letters Foundation

The Letters Foundation is a foundation of last resort that provides humanitarian grants to people experiencing a crisis through no fault of their own and for whom no other options exist. These one-time grants provide a hand-up to individuals as they work to stabilize their lives. Established by siblings Warren and Doris Buffett, the Letters Foundation reads and replies to letters from individuals living within the United States. Letters aims to honor the dignity of every person who writes to the Foundation and collaborates with grantees to assist in overcoming the barriers currently preventing them from moving forward in their lives. Doris' lifelong commitment to individuals, and her kind but practical approach to problem solving inform all areas of grant making.

About the Gavin Foundation

The Gavin Foundation is a nonprofit agency providing comprehensive adult, youth and community substance abuse education, prevention and treatment programs. Established in South Boston in 1963, we now serve over 5,000 individuals each year from Massachusetts and beyond. The Gavin Foundation offers a continuum of care to individuals, support services to their families, and programs to increase community awareness and acceptance regarding addiction and recovery.

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