The city of Boston may add greatly to its efforts to reduced homelessness if the City Council, as expected, authorizes the Department of Neighborhood Development to accept more than $24 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
If authorized at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, the funds would be used to support programs that provide services and housing programs for the homeless. In submitting the order to authorize, Mayor Tom Menino said he hoped the Council would adopt the order so that the city could meet HUD’s January 18 deadline for the application.
If the $24,672,979 being offered by HUD is accepted by the city, it would be used to implement programs detailed in Boston’s 2012 “Continuum of Care Program”
Under the program, HUD is making more than $1.6 billion available to Boston and other cities across the U.S. to bolster their already existing programs to aid the homeless. Cities will also be required to meet certain requirement under the CoC plan.
The HUD program is designed to “promote a community-wide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness,” according to the agency. Under the CoC, funds will go to nonprofit agencies, local governments and states to re-house homeless individuals and families, to provide access to mainstream programs and help develop self-sufficiency among homeless individuals and families.
In 2011, two Boston agencies, Bay Cove Human Services, Inc., which runs the “Home At Last” program, and Pine Street, Inc., which conducts Long Term Stayers Housing, were awarded $470,976 and $565,500, respectively.
Boston’s currently homeless prevention plan is comprised of a five-part strategy:
- Prevention, including an “Early Warning System” to identify at-risk individuals and families; a homeless prevention network to deliver stabilizations services and a shelter diversion program, to keep individuals out of emergency shelters if possible;
- Emergency shelters, which offer not only temporary housing, but substance abuse and mental health counseling, job training assistance, daycare and criminal health re-entry services.
- Housing placement services, including nearly 50,000 units of assisted housing in the city, as well as 800 mobile housing vouchers from the Boston Housing Authority.
- The construction of new housing;
- The creation of sustainable permanent housing.
In addition, the city is seeking rental housing market stabilization to prevent unnecessary evictions due to the current rental housing market.
According to Heading Home, Inc., a Cambridge-based homeless advocacy agency, more than 7,000 homeless individuals are homeless in Boston on any given night, including 3,000 children.