Mayor Announces Initiative to Help Boston Homeless

The rate for Boston homeless individuals has dropped by 23 percent.Mayor Thomas M. Menino has released a detailed plan to help house Boston homeless individuals and offer them the support they need to succeed.

“Bringing Boston Home,” the City’s new plan, is the result of a four-year process during which members of the Leadership Council met regularly to discuss challenges still facing the homeless community, and set forth measurable outcomes to be achieved by the close of the three-year plan.

Mayor 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.”

Since 2009, the rate for Boston homeless individuals has dropped by 23 percent. Compared to other cities across the country, Boston has a relatively small population without shelter, as about 3 percent of homeless persons go unsheltered.

Seven Steps for Helping Boston Homeless

Bringing Boston Home has seven steps, starting with helping Boston’s street homeless and ending with discharging some to homes rather than shelters. The plan also has built in support systems so that someone is making sure these individuals are taking their medication and looking for employment.

The total cost of the Boston homeless plan is estimated at $7.3 million. The city already has $2.4 million in existing resources and the other $4.9 million will come from re-prioritizing existing resources and from new fundraising efforts from public and private entities.

The goal of the plan is to reduce the number of persistently unsheltered Boston homeless by 50 percent by the end of Fiscal Year 2014. It also 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.

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Declining Federal resources means it will be much harder for the City to produce housing for the Boston 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 Fiscal Year 2016.