Boston Mayor Marty Walsh today released  An Action Plan to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness, the results of months of work by the Mayor’s Task Force on Individual Homelessness.

The Task Force identified that Boston has one of the lowest rates of urban, unsheltered street homelessness in the United States, as a result of steadily increasing the number of housing units for homeless individuals by targeting resources and committing to new investments.

In the last two years:

  • 191 long term shelter stayers have been housed
  • 391 homeless individuals have been rapidly rehoused
  • 67 highly vulnerable individuals on the street have been housed
  • 640 homeless veteran have been housed
  • Emergency department use has been reduced 54 percent among a cohort of high utilizers of emergency services after permanent supportive housing placement; nights hospitalized were reduced by 31 percent

Despite these efforts, the demand for shelter services has recently increased. To truly solve homelessness in Boston, it is imperative for the City and its partner providers to implement critical system reforms.

The action plan will work to end veteran homelessness by 2015 and chronic homelessness by 2018. The goals will require a complete transformation of the homeless response system and will impact outcomes across the system for the entire individual homeless population.

The Action Plan will redesign Boston’s homelessness response system by focusing more on technology alongside the components of Front Door Triage, Coordinated Access, Rapid Rehousing, and Permanent Supportive Housing:

  • Front Door Triage is the immediate response to homeless individuals upon entry into the homeless system, including individuals on the street or entering emergency shelter. It will have special focus on unaccompanied youth and young adults; untreated substance use disorders; discharge planning; and street outreach.
  • Coordinated Access is a centralized online data system that matches homeless individuals to housing vacancies based on need. The Coordinated Access system will centralize vacancies to permanent supportive housing units and will use data to drive outcomes.
  • Rapid Rehousing is an approach that moves homeless households to housing as quickly as possible by providing the amount, type and duration of assistance needed to stabilize the household, such as employment opportunities, help with increasing household income and securing benefits.
  • Permanent Supportive Housing combines subsidized rental housing with individualized support services. It is an intensive intervention typically reserved for individuals with complex barriers who need a high level of support in order to achieve stability in housing. The City will target 950 Permanent Supportive Housing units to the most vulnerable; of those 950 units, 750 will become available through turn-over of existing permanent supportive housing units. The City will create an additional 200 new units of very low-barrier permanent supportive housing; create strategies to help those who no longer need services to move on; revise housing policies that create barriers to housing; and help maximize opportunities to provide services through MassHealth.

The approximate total amount of existing resources dedicated to meeting the goals of this plan over three years is $60.9 million. The total estimated amount of new resources needed over three years is $12.7 million, which will be secured through a variety of public and private partners.

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