Mayor Walsh announces big investments for homeless in BostonStaff writer ▼ | April 22, 2016
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced significant investment for homelessness services to further the goals of the city's Action Plan to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness in Boston.
Massachusetts The increased funding for homelessness services
The $1.3 million allocation to support the implementation of the Mayor's Homelessness Action Plan covers three main areas: Supporting front door triage; rapid rehousing rental assistance; and increasing assistance to Family Aid.
The FY17 budget also includes an increase of $2 million in federal funds to provide low barrier permanent supportive housing for the homeless. Taken together, these allocations further the goals of the Action Plan and help provide a safety net for Boston's most vulnerable residents.
"I'm proud that through thoughtful savings and finding new efficiencies, we are able to increase funding to help our homeless residents not only find safe, stable housing, but to access the supports and services they need," said Mayor Walsh.
Front Door Triage: The budget allocation will fund the creation of additional full-time triage staff, who will complement the triage staff at the City's Southampton Street shelter.
Across those two sites, the staff members will form a unified triage program and act as intake workers for individuals who are first entering the homeless system.
The workers will assess the specific needs of individuals in crisis, and will rapidly direct them to the appropriate resources such as referrals to appropriate substance abuse or mental health treatment programs, moving costs, temporary storage costs, or transportation to reunify individuals with family and friends.
Enhancing and expanding the number of these staff members iscritical to ensuring that individuals receive the resources that meet their unique needs. In addition, the budget allocation includes flexible funds to help homeless individuals to return to their communities of origin.
Rapid Rehousing: The data upon which the homelessness plan is based clearly demonstrates that the longer individuals remain in shelter, the more difficult it is for them to leave shelter.
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.
Rapid rehousing reduces reliance on the shelter system, and prevents individuals from becoming chronically homeless.
Family Aid assistance: Family Aid provides emergency shelter to families who become homeless and are not eligible for state assistance by placing these families in area hotel and motel rooms for a short time while they search for longer term housing.
Although the family shelter system is managed by the Commonwealth, the City recognizes that occasionally, families may not qualify for the state shelter system; these funds will help Family Aid stabilize these families in crisis so that they have time to find safe, stable housing.
The program focuses on those who would otherwise be eligible but are typically working and over income for state funded shelter.
In addition, in FY17, the City is investing an additional $1M in resources to enhance safety and service at the Woods Mullen and Southampton Street shelters.
The investments, which include hiring a mix of coordinators, assistant coordinators, counselors, and security staff, will enable the Public Health Commission to efficiently operate the shelters on 24/7 basis and better assist Boston's most vulnerable population with case management, medical and behavioral health services, career counseling, job training, substance abuse prevention, and housing support.
The Walsh Administration's action plan to end veteran and chronic homelessness set forth the goal of ending veterans homelessness by 2015 and chronic individual homelessness by 2018.
In his January 2016 State of the City speech, Mayor Walsh announced that Boston had effectively ended chronic homelessness among veterans. At the time of the launch of the effort to end veterans homelessness, there were 414 homeless veterans in Boston.
Since then, more than 600 homeless veterans have been housed, at a rate of approximately one per day. The total number of homeless veterans on a given night has declined 44 percent since December 2013.
The City will now scale up its efforts around ending chronic homelessness.
In February, Mayor Walsh announced the selection of Green River, a Brattleboro technology company, to create a centralized platform that will allow shelters, housing companies and emergency facilities to engage on a single tech platform, in order to help match homeless people in Boston to housing and resources best suited to their needs. ■