Published On: Wed, Dec 14th, 2016

Baker-Polito Administration Announces Comprehensive Winter Efforts to Address Needs of Homeless and Other Individuals in Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

BOSTON – Today the Baker-Polito Administration announced this year’s plan to shelter and protect homeless individuals from extreme cold weather conditions by facilitating a network of city and state agencies, homeless shelters, street outreach and other services to provide resources to those at risk.

Together, the City of Boston with support of several state agencies are coordinating efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of homeless individuals with mental health, substance misuse disorders and other needs are met. In addition to year-round emergency shelter beds, overflow beds are being brought online at the Pine Street Inn, Boston Homeless Services, Boston Rescue Mission, the Boston Night Center and Bridge Over Troubled Waters.

“Our partnership with the City of Boston to fund and support services for homeless individuals is the result of careful planning and collaboration between public agencies and local providers to ensure homeless individuals needs are met once temperatures drop ,” said Linn Torto, Executive Director of the MA Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness. “It is our objective with the implementation of these preventative measures that every homeless individual who needs shelter will have a safe, warm place to sleep this winter.”

The state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) are funding an increase of overnight beds at $1 million dollars. In addition to actively engaging with the City of Boston, the state is partnering with other local municipalities and providers throughout the state to develop and identify funding for a winter plan for 2016-2017.

“Our administration’s approach to homelessness across Massachusetts has consistently focused on collaboration, partnership and a comprehensive effort to alleviate the burden of homelessness for families and individuals,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. “This partnership, which spans multiple state agencies and the City of Boston, will increase the services we provide and ensure that no matter how cold this winter gets, our homeless population will have access to the resources they need.”

Through the inter-agency coordination of the Executive Offices of Housing and Economic Development and Health and Human Services, the Baker-Polito Administration has been focused on a holistic approach to addressing homelessness that encompasses early intervention and diversion for homeless or at-risk families, rapid rehousing for those in need and increased access to supportive services to stabilize our most vulnerable families. Moving families from temporary shelters to permanent, and more suitable housing, is a top priority for this Administration. In fact:

  • Current hotel/motel population is 160, down from 1,500 when Baker Administration came into office. 
  • Current EA shelter population is 3,634 (the lowest it’s been since September 2013) down from 4,629 when the Baker Administration came into office.

The following represents the key elements of the winter planning effort from the Baker-Polito Administration:

  • EOHHS agencies will provide funding and services support for Bridge Over Troubled Waters to increase the number of overnight beds by 14 and 24/7 access for youth this winter. 
  • The Boston Night Center has been fully funded for this fiscal year to add additional overflow capacity. In addition, there has been a new program of engagement and harm reduction services promoted within the site to support guests with serious mental illness and substance abuse issues and provide intentional connections to triage programs in other shelters during the day.  This program is funded through EOHHS agencies, DHCD and the City of Boston.
  • Boston Rescue Mission will provide overflow beds for men as needed, funded by DHCD and the City of Boston.
  • Boston Rescue Mission will provide overflow beds for women as needed, funded by DHCD and the City of Boston.

Resources for additional beds statewide will be supported on an as needed basis and will be funded by DHCD.