For Immediate Release
October 14, 2009
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Announces grants to connect the chronically homeless to permanent housing
Mayor Thomas M. Menino today opened the first city-operated day center for chronically homeless residents, creating for the first time a hub of services under one roof for the long-term homeless who spend most days on the street or in the shelter system.
At the dedication ceremony for the Weintraub Day Center at Woods Mullen Shelter, Mayor Menino also announced nearly $3 millions in new public funding to connect chronically homeless residents to permanent housing, putting Boston closer to Mayor Menino's goal of ending long-term homelessness.
"The Weintraub Day Center and this new funding to help place the chronically homeless into permanent housing represent enormous progress toward our goal of reducing homelessness," Mayor Menino said. "These programs will enhance our ability to provide housing and the continuum of care and services that homeless residents need and deserve."
The Weintraub Center, located on Albany Street in Roxbury, near Boston Medical Center, is named for Richard Weintraub, former director of the Bureau of Homeless Services at the Boston Public Health Commission. He retired last year after more than 30 years of service to Boston's homeless residents.
The center is expected to serve 90 homeless residents a day, providing substance abuse and mental health counseling, health insurance enrollment and housing referral. Outreach workers from Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, Bridge Over Troubled.
Waters, HomeStart, Mass Health, the Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission Disability Determination Services, and Veterans Services will offer services on site.
"Mayor Menino has provided us with clear vision and real leadership by bringing all of the partners together to help the most vulnerable population in our city," said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. "The Weintraub Center truly represents the best in public and private partnerships."
The Weintraub center offers 3,400 square feet of new space in the Woods Mullen emergency shelter. The building has undergone a $100,000 renovation with funds from the Boston Public Health Commission and the Friends of Boston's Homeless, and received in-kind contributions from Sullivan's Pharmacy in Roslindale and Gordon Brothers Group, LLC. The center will house services funded by the nearly $3 million in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, and the United States Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
The Weintraub Center will help to alleviate the strain on hospital emergency departments that often care for the chronically homeless - the 651 Boston residents identified in the 2008 Homeless Count as living in shelters or on the street for more than a year.
Although 59 percent of chronically homeless have substance abuse, mental health, and other major medical problems, they often alternate between the streets, hospitals, and even corrections facilities without consistent medical care. According to a 2008 report from Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Health Care for the Homeless, 119 individuals accounted for 18,384 emergency room visits and 871 medical hospitalizations over a five year period.
The center is the latest addition to Mayor Menino's Leading the Way initiative. As part of the project, Boston Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Boston Health Care for the Homeless, Boston Housing Authority, Boston Public Health Commission, and the Boston Police Department's Street Outreach Team, work together to identify the needs of chronically homeless individuals, maintain regular contact, and work with service providers, advocates, and the criminal justice system to improve policies and response.