Thursday, January 26, 2017


Yearly count of Boston's homeless helps focus City housing efforts
Mayor Walsh thanking volunteers who helped with the Census.

BOSTON - Thursday, January 26, 2017 - On Wednesday night, Mayor Martin J. Walsh led a group of 400 volunteers, including City of Boston cabinet and department heads, State officials, community and civic leaders, and homeless providers in conducting the street count for the City's 37th annual homeless census. The street count is part of a larger census of homeless adults and families in emergency shelters, transitional housing and domestic violence programs.

In 2016, Boston was identified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as the city with the lowest percentage of unsheltered people living on the street of any city conducting a census. The annual homeless census is required by HUD as a key component of Boston's $24 million funding grant.

"I want to thank all of last night's volunteers for their time and commitment to our homeless neighbors," Mayor Walsh said. "The annual homeless census is far more than a one-night count -- it's part of a year-round commitment to housing our homeless and helping our neighbors in need.  One of the things I am most proud of as Mayor is that since the first time I led this census three years ago, more than one thousand homeless people in our city have been housed -- and we are not stopping until we have ended chronic homelessness in the City of Boston."

This year, the Census' 400 volunteers canvassed 45 areas covering every city neighborhood, Logan Airport and the transit and parks systems. After a robust recruitment effort, two-thirds of the event's participants were first-time volunteers.

Results of the homeless census form the basis for Boston's policy efforts. Boston's Way Home, the City's plan to end chronic and veteran homelessness, puts housing first, dramatically redesigning the way the City delivers services to the homeless, increasing resources devoted to housing the homeless, and deploying new technologies to match formerly homeless people with housing and services

Since the launch of the plan:
  • Mayor Walsh announced in January, 2016 that Boston has ended chronic veteran homelessness.  At the time that Mayor Walsh launched his plan to end veteran homelessness, there were 414 homeless veterans in Boston. Since then, 808 homeless veterans -- nearly twice that number -- have been housed.
  • The length of stay in shelter among veterans has been significantly reduced.  Today, 70 percent of veterans are able to leave shelter in less than 6 months.
  • In 2016 alone, 244 chronically homeless individuals were housed. This represents more than 1,500 combined years of homelessness ended.
  • The City has increased the amount of permanent supportive housing targeted for chronically homeless individuals by 100 units and vouchers since January 2016.
  • The Mayor's FY17 budget increased spending on homelessness by more than $1 million for Front Door Triage and Rapid Rehousing, programs that begin to connect homeless individuals to housing and services as soon as they enter shelter.
  • A team of newly-hired Front Door Triage workers has begun assessing homeless people at the front door of shelter.  These intake sessions will help providers and the City coordinate access to appropriate resources, including recovery services, reducing the overall length of stay in shelter.
  • Working with the State, the City launched an initiative to end chronic homelessness among elders in July 2016, hosting "housing surges" for elders that offered housing and integrated care together for the first time. 50 seniors have been housed as a result.
  • In August, the City launched an open source housing match engine to pair chronically homeless individuals with housing and services. The Coordinated Access System uses the City's existing data to track housing vacancies and create housing placements through a centralized online database.  

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