Hospitals give $3 million to Boston homeless organizations

Three major Boston hospitals are working together to tackle housing insecurity over the next three years.

Boston Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Boston Children’s Hospital will provide $3 million in funds over the next three years to organizations that are aiding those struggling to afford rent or are facing eviction.

All three hospitals announced the partnership in a joint press release in August, labeling housing as “a social determinant of health.”

The money will go towards the Innovative Stable Housing Initiative which is comprised of three different funds – the Flex Fund, the Upstream Fund and Resident-Led Fund.

Money from the initiative will be used “to identify, assess, and fund strategic approaches to increase housing stability for Greater Boston’s most vulnerable populations,” the joint press release said.

Three different organizations were selected through a Request For Proposal review process to receive $500,000 for one year through the Flex Fund. Those organizations include, Casa Myrna, a nonprofit dedicated to victims of domestic and dating violence and Urban Revival, better known as City Life/Vida Urbana.

City Life/Vida Urbana said in a press release that a portion of money will provide direct financial assistance to households facing displacement or third parties who would help cover direct housing stabilization expenses or “unanticipated urgent needs” that would prevent households from paying rent.

Lisa Owens, executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, said a full-time attorney representing households facing eviction will also be paid for by these funds.

These households, Owens said, “would not otherwise have access to legal services.”

“We found that over 90 percent of tenants who actively fight their cases with legal assistance and participate actively in Tenant Association organizing are able to stabilize their housing,” Owens said.

Matthew Pritchard, president and CEO of HomeStart – the third organization receiving money from the Flex Fund – said his organization will receive $166,200 to support 140 more households dealing with homelessness, housing instability or the threat of eviction.

HomeStart provides housing services to those living on the streets or in shelters, a stabilization program for those who are chronically homeless and an eviction prevention program.

“Our hope is that with this injection of ISHI [Innovative Stable Housing Initiative] money will allow us to serve a greater percentage of the folks who meet the qualification of our services that historically we have not had the philanthropic resources to support,” Pritchard said.

Boston Children’s Hospital and Boston Medical Center are behind the Upstream Fund, which will “support policy and systems change efforts around stable housing,” according to the press release.

Other organizations benefiting from the $3 million investment include the Center for Economic Democracy, the Boston Ujima Project and Right to the City.

All three organizations will be involved in a Resident-Led planning process led by Boston Medical Center to design a separate grant-making process.

The Resident-Led planning process aims to engage working class people of color in Boston in finding housing solutions, according to the press release.

Over the next three years $100,000 will be set aside for the Resident-Led Fund and $927,800 will be put toward the Upstream Fund, accounting for $1,027,800 of the $2,950,000 being spent over a three-year period.

Boston Children’s Hospital’s Executive Director of Community Health Shari Nethersole called the partnership an opportunity to leverage resources and “support strategies that will keep children in their homes and help families to access more suitable housing.”

Wanda McClain, vice president of community health and health equity at the Brigham, said this will “improve health outcomes and decrease health inequities.”

Boston Medical Center’s Vice President of Mission and Associate Chief Medical Officer Thea James said a prescription for a root cause, “like housing” is often needed to allow patients to become healthy.  

“By partnering with community organizations and residents who are most often left out of decisions and most at risk for displacement to be part of the decision-making process, we can make a measurable difference in the health of communities,” James said.







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