Walsh promotes anti-homelessness initiative

Walsh promotes anti-homelessness initiative
Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced a new fund, the Boston Way Home Fund, in his inaugural address on Jan. 1. / Photo by Brian Bae

By Ava Sasani, news staff

Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of the Boston’s Way Home Fund to reduce homelessness during his second inaugural address earlier this month.

The fund will enhance existing efforts to reduce chronic homelessness in Boston by raising $10 million over four years to provide for 200 new affordable housing units. The fund began with help from Bank of America and the Pine Street Inn, Boston’s largest homeless shelter.

“Pine Street Inn will provide the know-how and Bank of America will start us out with a $250,000 donation,” Walsh said in the address.

Pine Street Inn is New England’s largest provider of emergency shelter, permanent supportive housing and job training. Though Pine Street Inn has three key shelter locations, it also owns 37 affordable housing units across Boston and Brookline.

There is an extensive range of emergency and overnight shelters in the Greater Boston area. Rosie’s Place, a Roxbury women’s shelter just 20 minutes from Northeastern’s campus, provides poor and homeless women job training, education services and emergency and long-term shelter.

“Rosie’s Place is encouraged to see Mayor Walsh’s commitment to low-income and homeless people in Massachusetts,” said Michelle Chausse, the director of communications for Rosie’s Place.

Rosie’s Place also engages in advocacy by lobbying the State House and state representatives. Rosie’s Place supports various public policy efforts, including a minimum wage of $15 per hour and paid family and medical leave for Massachusetts employees.

“The women we serve at Rosie’s Place have ongoing difficulty finding and keeping housing due to the inflated cost of housing in Boston,” Chausse said.  “Any effort to increase the stock in housing is encouraged.”

Affordable housing and homelessness have been critical issues for Walsh, both during his recent re-election campaign and his first term.

In 2014, Walsh launched the Boston Homes for the Brave initiative, committing to end veteran homelessness by 2015. He announced the end of chronic homelessness among veterans in his 2016 inaugural address: The 2017 City of Boston homeless census found that 842 homeless veterans had been housed, far exceeding the 414 homeless veterans living in Boston at the launch of Boston Homes for the Brave in 2014.

In July 2015, Walsh expanded the city’s fight against homelessness by establishing Boston’s Way Home, an action plan that attempted to end chronic homelessness in Boston by 2018. Walsh reiterated this goal in his 2018 inauguration.

“Housing is the key to long-term financial security … let’s be the first major city to come together as a community and end chronic homelessness for good,” Walsh said in the speech.

The policy will be aided by a recent $26.3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, more commonly known as HUD. Since its inception e in 2015, the program has housed 1,300 homeless people. The HUD grant will be used to advance existing efforts to support homeless individuals during the housing search and create new housing units.

One of Boston Way Home’s key partner organizations is the St. Francis House, a daytime shelter in downtown Boston. On January 16, Walsh partnered with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and Boston Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley to break ground on The Union, an affordable housing redevelopment across the street from St. Francis House. The Union will renovate and repurpose the building formerly belonging to Boston Young Men’s Christian Union, creating 46 new affordable housing units in downtown Boston.

 

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