New City Plan Will Reduce Boston Homelessness by 2016

After detailing the $16.5 billion “Housing Boston 2020” plan that calls for 30,000 new residential units completed by 2020, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced this week another housing strategy that aims to fight homelessness in Boston.

After detailing the $16.5 billion “Housing Boston 2020” plan that calls for 30,000 new residential units completed by 2020, Mayor Thomas M. Menino announced this week another housing strategy that aims to fight homelessness in Boston.

Named “Bringing Boston Home”, the new plan was put together over the past four years by members of the Leadership Council on Homelessness in an effort to reduce the number of people living on the city’s streets or public shelters by 50 percent by the end of 2016.

There were almost 7,000 homeless people living in shelters, on the street, in transitional housing or enrolled in residential treatment programs at the end of 2012, according to data revealed by the Boston Business Journal. That accounts for approximately 3.2 percent of the total Boston population—a 23 percent drop since 2009—and an extremely small number as compared to other cities its size.

“Bringing Boston Home” will specifically address seven major issues that the city needs to solve:

-          Reduce the number of people living on the streets by half by the end of Fiscal Year 2014;

-          Find permanent shelter for 80 homeless individuals who use the city’s hospital emergency rooms by 2016;

-          Use Boston’s emergency shelter system only for short-term stays, not as a long-term housing solution;

-          Set up a system of regional services and support outside the city to help homeless individuals released from the criminal justice and social service systems find appropriate housing solutions;

-          Reduce the number of families facing eviction for unpaid rent by 25 percent by providing housing subsidies;

-          Allow and support access to educational, skill training and advancement possibilities in order to prevent recurring homelessness and promote long-term stability;

-          Create 225 housing units for homeless people by the end of 2016.

According to Boston.com, the plan already has $2.4 million in available funding, and another $4.9 million will be raised by 2016 through reprioritizing existing resources and attracting further public and private funding.

“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 shelters, and help families in subsidized housing keep their homes, even when unexpected circumstances make it hard to pay rent,” said Mayor Menino in an official statement.