Bringing Boston Home: New city plan tackles homelessness

A man sleeps on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston. PHOTO BY NICOLAUS CZARNECKI/METRO
A man sleeps on Massachusetts Avenue in Boston.
Credit: Nicolaus Czarnecki/Metro

A new homelessness plan called Bringing Boston Home aims to significantly reduce homelessness in the city by 2016. 

“We’ve had great success in reducing homelessness, and the Leadership Council has courageously taken on some of the most difficult remaining issues faced by our homeless population,” Boston Mayor Thomas Menino said.

“We are going to help our most challenged and medically frail homeless off the street; make sure that the mentally ill, ex-offenders, and youth don’t unnecessarily wind up in shelter, and help families in subsidized housing keep their homes, even when unexpected circumstances make it hard to pay rent.”

The new plan examines seven key issues facing homeless individuals and provides recommendations aimed at solving the root causes of homelessness, including providing permanent housing and reducing the number of persistently unsheltered homeless individuals by 50 percent.

Specifically, the plan will address:

Street Homelessness – While Boston has a comparatively low number of people living on the street, this population tends to be particularly vulnerable, including seniors, unaccompanied youth, and individuals with chronic substance abuse issues, and mental and physical disabilities.

The goal of the plan is to reduce the number of persistently unsheltered homeless by 50 percent by the end of FY14.

High Utilizers of Emergency Services – 80 homeless individuals in the city use Boston’s hospital emergency rooms as a regular shelter option and health care provider; data have shown that permanent supportive housing options for these individuals produce not only improved health outcomes, but also an average 50 percent reduction in emergency room use.

The plan seeks to house all 80 of these individuals by 2016.

Homeless Individuals in Shelter – While there will always be a need for an emergency shelter system, it is designed only for short-term stays, not as a long-term solution.

The plan seeks to reduce the number of long-term homeless in Boston’s shelters by 50 percent, and to reduce their average length of stay by 25 percent.

Reducing Unnecessary Shelter Placement – Boston’s shelters are often used as a housing solution for institutions or communities without housing solutions of their own; often, individuals are released from the criminal justice and social service systems without sufficient housing support, and a lack of regional services and housing support outside the city means that Boston shelters a disproportionate number of homeless individuals from outside the city.

The plan will improve coordination with key Federal and State institutions, with a priority on getting veterans, the mentally ill, ex-offenders, and youth appropriate support to avoid placement in shelter.

Family Homelessness – The eviction of subsidized tenants is one of the key systems that can unnecessarily generate new family homelessness; once a family loses a rent subsidy due to eviction, it becomes more difficult for them to find permanent housing.

The plan seeks to reduce the number families with housing subsidies who are evicted solely for rent arrearages by 25 percent.

Workforce Development – To promote long-term stability and prevent recurring homelessness, the City will seek to expand access to appropriate educational, skill training and advancement opportunities.

Homeless Housing Production – Declining Federal resources mean that it will be much harder for the City to produce housing for the homeless at the historic rates of the last 20 years.

The plan calls for the City to maintain homeless housing production rates as close as possible to historic production rates, creating 225 units though FY16.
They city’s Leadership Council on Homelessness developed the plan over the last four years.

Last year, the city reported roughly 6,650 people in Boston were homeless – in 2002 there were 6,210.

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

At 91, Marvel creator Stan Lee continues to…

By Piya Sinha-RoyLOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Marvel Entertainment's chief emeritus Stan Lee may be in his ninth decade, but it hasn't stopped him from adding…

National

Islamic State says beheads U.S. journalist, holds another

Islamic State insurgents released a video purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley, who had gone missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

Local

VIDEO: NYPD seeks shooter in East New York…

Cops are on the lookout for an unknown shooter who aimed and missed hitting a man on a bicycle, instead nearly striking a nearby officer in East New York.

Local

NYS state forces thrift shops comply with ban…

Nine New York City thrift shops were reprimanded by the state attorney general for selling children's clothes with drawstrings around the neck and waist.

Movies

Interview: Robert Rodriguez doesn't mind that Jessica Alba…

In making a Hollywood-friendly adaptation of Frank Miller's gritty "Sin City" graphic novel series, Robert Rodriguez learned that some things have to go — namely…

Movies

Interview: Jessica Alba is a stripper again in…

Jessica Alba has gotten used to vague phone calls from director Robert Rodriguez, the Austin-based auteur who has made a habit of putting Alba into…

Television

TV watch list, Wednesday, Aug. 20: 'Extant,' 'Legends'…

See a two hour block of Halle Berry's scifi show, "Extant."

The Word

The Word: Mischa Barton in trouble, not that…

  People are really, really worried about Mischa Barton. Again. The former "O.C." star is reportedly in deep financial trouble and can't seem to get…

MLB

Shane Greene travels unlikely road to Yankees stardom

Shane Greene was throwing a bullpen session on a quiet field at Daytona Beach Community College one day when the ball started moving.

NFL

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL…

2014 Fantasy Football: Rankings, list of top NFL tight ends (TE)

MLB

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

MLB Power Rankings: Angels supplant A's, Nationals climb

NFL

David Wilson returns to triple jump, sets sights…

Giants fans know David Wilson can jump. They are just more used to seeing him go for backflips, not distance.

Parenting

Fun family activity: Off-Broadway show for pre-teens

"The Love Note" is an off-Broadway musical your pre-teen won't roll his or her eyes at.

Parenting

Barnes & Noble partners with Samsung to release…

Barnes & Noble releases the first full android tablet optimized for reading.

Style

11 timeless gifts for registries or just because

Gifts to prove you're a style maven once and for all.

Food

The Chic Wife tells us how to use…

Kris Schoels, aka The Chic Wife, grew up on a farm with peach trees. August is National Peach Month, but Kris Schoels doesn’t need a reason…