Friday, November 15, 2013

Reversing the Tide of Homelessness in Boston

As the Associate City Director in Boston, I’m extremely blessed to have the opportunity to host groups that come to serve in my hometown during the non-summer months. One of my favorite parts of hosting is taking groups out on the prayer tour. One thing that you all may not know, each city revises their prayer tour at the end of every season to update statistics, add data and topics and to keep it relevant and interesting (even for repeat groups!).
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reworking our Boston prayer tour, adding a segment that discusses race relations in the city, changing the route a bit and updating statistics on education, homelessness and human trafficking. I love writing about my city. I love taking people on a prayer tour of the place that has my heart. There is no greater joy for me than having a whole van full of people praying for my home. It really is the greatest.  I thought I reached a point where I was almost finished writing and ready to begin editing, when my mayor released this tweet:

I absolutely encourage you take 20 minutes to read this amazing and comprehensive plan to significantly reduce homelessness here in Boston!  (Click here to read the plan)
Being a realistic lady, I know that you probably would be more interested in the highlights, so here are some amazing tidbits I’ve pulled out of this plan!
·       Nearly 97% of Boston’s homeless are sheltered. This is the highest sheltering rate in the nation.
o   At the end of 2012, the City of Boston’s Homeless Census counted 193 people living on the street.
o   The goal for street homelessness is to reduce the number of persistently unsheltered individuals by 50%
·       80 homeless individuals use Boston hospital emergency rooms as a regular shelter option and health care provider.
o   These individuals are among the most medically fragile, and by far the most costly, subset of Boston’s homeless population in terms of health care costs.
o   Since 2010, housing and supportive services resulted in a 56% reduction in Emergency Department visits, a 33% reduction in hospital stays, and a tenancy retention rate of 88%
·       Of the almost 10,000 individuals who enter one of Boston’s shelters over the course of a year, 68% are able to exit the system in less than 30 days and with relatively little assistance
·       The goal for Long-Term Homelessness is to further reduce the number of long-term homeless in Boston’s shelters by 50 percent, reducing long-term homeless from 439 to 220 by 2016.
o   extended-stay (120-364 day) residents represent only 12% of the individuals using shelter in a year, but utilize 52% of the shelter system’s annual capacity
o   The number of long-term homeless individuals in Boston has declined by 23%: from 569 in 2009 to 439 at the end of 2012
·       The goal for Family Homelessness is to reduce by 25% the number of families with housing subsidies who are evicted solely for rent arrearages by the end of 2016.
o   In 2010, the average subsidized tenant had an arrearage of only  $1,552; in 2011, the average was $1,670. The cost of repairing that delinquency is a fraction of what it will cost the State for emergency housing if that family becomes homeless

These are just a few of the amazing plans and goals that the City of Boston has established for our most vulnerable citizens. I am so excited to not only SEE how they are implemented, but to PARTICIPATE in the implementation, as well, by bringing CSM Boston mission teams into shelters and outreach organizations to be a part of this wonderful Kingdom restoration work!!

- Jess Fothergill, CSM Boston Associate City Director

Learn how YOU can serve with CSM in Boston!

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