Pine Street Success Story: Barbara

35 Creighton Street

Barbara had always worked and supported herself. She held a variety of office jobs, until she was laid off during the economic downturn. She was unable to find another job, and when her unemployment ran out, she found herself homeless. She then came to Pine Street’s women’s shelter, where she stayed for a year, working closely with a housing advocate. Then a room became available one of Pine Street’s residences. Barbara moved in the next day.

“I really appreciate all kinds of little things you don’t have to think about when you have a place to live. I am so happy to be able to think about my future now,” says Barbara.

Pine Street Success Story: Mark

Mark has livMarked on his own since he was 14 years old, and spent years struggling to find housing and a job. After time spent in jail, Mark came to Pine Street Inn, where he stayed in the men’s shelter and joined Pine Street’s Boston HandyWorks job training program. Training has given Mark the confidence necessary to obtain, keep, and advance in the workforce. Mark is now living in Pine Street’s permanent housing and has a full-time job. He has also reconnected with his young daughter.

“For years I had been trying to get out of a ditch, and Pine Street gave me a ladder,” says Mark.

 

Statement from the Coalition for Homeless Individuals Expressing Disappointment in House Budget

Boston, MA (April 13 2016) – The Coalition for Homeless Individuals, an advocacy group comprised of 25 service providers, released the following statement regarding the FY17 budget released today by the House Committee on Ways and Means, which level-funded the line item (7004-0102) that provides funding to organizations offering beds and services to homeless individuals.

“Level funding the line item means diminishing our ability to help homeless individuals.  Current funding covers only 61 percent of the actual cost for shelters providing beds to homeless individuals, and only 35 percent of the operating budget for day shelters. This lack of funding means that providers are further limited in developing the kinds of services that we know can help transition homeless individuals into stable housing.

Our member organizations are on the front lines, dealing with the Commonwealth’s opioid crisis and other factors that lead to homelessness.  The people we serve are the ones who are hurt when there is a lack of political will to provide the resources required to address the challenges homeless individuals face. We will continue to work with the legislature to help them understand why they must do more.”

Under the Commonwealth’s system for combating homelessness, people experiencing homelessness are classified into two groups: individuals – including adults and unaccompanied youth – and families. The two groups receive separate services from separate funding sources. Since 2001, the main source of funding for homeless individuals has experienced a 7.4 percent decline in inflation-adjusted dollars. Providers are seeking an increase of $5.2 million to $50 million for the FY17 fiscal year.

Pine Street Success Story: Paul

Paul F. Sullivan & Blaise FlynnOriginally from Boston, Paul had worked in the insurance industry in Texas. His business collapsed, and he turned to alcohol to ease the pain. Paul moved back to Boston and lived for a short time with relatives, but then wound up at Pine Street’s shelter. With the support of staff, he soon moved to a Pine Street residence where he has lived for over five years.  Paul is active in the community, tutoring adults who are working toward their GED; working at polling places as an election official; and doing community advocacy.

“Having  a  permanent  residence  means so much more  than  just   having  a  place  to  eat and  sleep  and  shower. My room, the other tenants, and the house have truly become my home and family,” says Paul.

Success Story: Joao Cipriano

Joao 1When you first meet Joao Cipriano, you are instantly pulled in by his contagious personality and infectious smile. But when you really get to know Joao, you may wonder how he ever had hope. For close to a decade, Joao had been living in Perkins Park in Brockton, heavily drinking and using drugs. Because of
his drug use, he had lost his job as a union painter and was estranged from his family and friends.

After 8 years of living on the streets, Joao decided he had to make a change in his life. “By the grace of God,” as he states, Joao discovered MainSpring House, and in November 2008, he turned in his bag, and “turned over his life.”

Since that day, Joao has not looked back. He participated in and graduated from FBMS’ WorkExpress program. The program required a commitment to sobriety and provided
Joao with paid on-the-job training, case management and the life skills training he needed to transition out of homelessness.

He currently lives in FBMS’ supported housing units in Brockton and is a model tenant. Perhaps most importantly, with the support and services from Father Bill’s & MainSpring, Joao celebrated 6 years of sobriety last November.

Due to a physical disability, Mr. Cipriano is unable to continue his work as a painter. But his disability does not stop him from giving back to his community in whatever way he can. Joao currently leads the AA programs at MainSpring House every week and works on small painting projects for FBMS when needed.

“ I am very grateful for the place I have to live and for the people here who have helped me,” said Joao. “Who knows where I would be now if not for
MainSpring. I decided to ‘let go and let God,’ and God has been very good to me.”

Joao’s fantastic story is just one example of the life-changing work done by MainSpring and other Coalition members every day. Together we can work to end homelessness and enable more happy endings like Joao’s.

St. Francis House Moving Ahead Program Advocacy Breakfast at State House

By Karen LaFrazia, Executive Director of St. Francis House

SFH Advocacy Day Michelewitz 2

Chairman Aaron Michlewitz addresses Advocacy Breakfast attendees

“Before doing the Moving Ahead Program I thought I was damaged goods with no self-worth and no belief in a life without drugs. I never thought I could hold a position for more than a few weeks, with my addiction destroying any and all dreams of living clean. Life is so much better today for me because of the Moving Ahead Program.” –Sheila, Graduate of Class 126

At the Massachusetts State House Advocacy Breakfast yesterday, with the support of Chairman Aaron Michlewitz, St. Francis House highlighted the success of the Sullivan Family Moving Ahead Program (MAP). Each year MAP prepares hundreds of men and women to join the workforce and lead productive lives.

Every day of the year, St. Francis House is open, welcoming all who come to our front door each morning seeking ways to start rebuilding their lives. Last month alone we served 1,862 unique individuals, and although we are located in Boston, people come from all over the state seeking our help.

Beyond the basics of warm meals, showers and changes of clothing, we have 56 units of permanent supported housing, and MAP provides vocational rehabilitation for 200 students each year.

SFH Advocacy DayLast year marked the twentieth anniversary of our Sullivan Family MAP, founded in 1995, which has an alumni network of over 1,500 graduates. More than a job-skills training program,  MAP proves that men and women can overcome long histories of homelessness and incarceration, struggles with mental health issues, and addiction to rediscover their true talents and abilities, successfully obtaining employment and leading fulfilling lives.

To best understand our impact, it is important to recognize that our students have, on average,experienced homelessness four times before joining the program.  This past year, 54% of our enrolled students graduated! But even more impressive is that 91% of those graduates were sober and employed the day they graduated, with an average hourly wage of $11.48.

These are some of the most resilient men and women in our community, whose stories highlight the power of believing in others. The power of the St. Francis House community is our collective belief in people, and the belief that people can change and rebuild their lives. Our Moving Ahead Program helps students seize these opportunities to move ahead in a meaningful way in their own lives.

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Rapidly re-housing to end homelessness

By Lyndia Downie, President & Executive Director of Pine Street Inn

At Pine Street Inn, we’re often categorized as an emergency shelter. And that’s true – we provide beds for hundreds of homeless individuals each evening who need a place to stay.

But like the other service providers in the Coalition for Homeless Individuals, we’re working diligently to change the trajectory of homelessness. Using that goal, Pine Street Inn has undergone a transformation over the last few years to provide more and more permanent housing beds. Like the rest of our coalition members, we’re committed to the Housing First Initiative and are targeting those who have been homeless for the longest period of time so that we can ensure stability as our dedicated staff work to end the root causes of homelessness. As the chart below demonstrates, we have shifted our structure. More than half of our beds are now in permanent housing.

Pine Street shift

Homelessness is a cycle, which perpetually circles back to the use of expensive emergency services across the state. At Pine Street Inn, we’re working to break that cycle by moving men and women out of shelter, off the street and into housing. Not only does this ensure a much improved quality of life, it also saves in emergency health and public safety costs.

Working together to build on our success

By Karen LaFrazia, Executive Director of St. Francis House

It’s been a long and difficult winter for individuals experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts. With the closure of the Long Island shelter, the Coalition’s network of shelters, health care workers and job training providers have seen an overflow of men and women in need of a helping hand. The record snowfall has compounded the difficulties our coalition members face as we stretch every resource so that we can protect everyone walking through our doors.

But even before the snow started to fall and the bridge closed, we were seeing an increase in the number of homeless individuals. Our coalition members look at every avenue to address the root causes of homelessness and we’re succeeding. We offer an array of effective services that are moving men and women out of homelessness and into self-sufficiency. But stagnant funding and resources over the past decade has meant that our providers just can’t keep up even while we have developed innovative programs to help homeless individuals. Our state now faces a rising number of individuals experiencing homelessness.

As providers, we’re collaborating to petition the state to allocate more resources to reduce the number of men and women experiencing homelessness in our Commonwealth. With renewed focus from our state leaders, our coalition members can build on our effective programming to rapidly return men and women to stability.