Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino unveils plan to battle homelessness

Mayor Thomas M. Menino today unveiled Bringing Boston Home, a multi-pronged, three-year plan to battle homelessness whose goals include a 50 percent reduction in the number of people living on the city’s streets.

“We cannot rest until every Bostonian has a place to call home,” Menino said in prepared remarks for the announcement today.

The annual homeless census conducted in December of last year found there were 193 people living on the streets in Boston, said Lisa Pollack, director of media for the city’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

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The number of unsheltered homeless in Boston has dropped by 23 percent since 2009. But Menino and the Leadership Council on Homelessness, a group of community leaders, developed the plan to provide not only shelter but permanent homes, the mayor’s office said in a statement.

The Leadership Council has worked with Menino on the plan since 2009, said Pollack.

The plan hopes to cut the number of consistently unsheltered homeless 50 percent by the end of next year.

The plan also tries to address the problem of homeless people using hospital emergency rooms. Currently, 80 individuals are using the emergency rooms of Boston hospitals for shelter and medical care, the mayor’s office said. The plan aims to house all of these individuals by 2016, the statement said.

Other sections of the plan call for:

_ Reducing the number and duration of long-term stays in homeless shelters;

_ Providing appropriate support for veterans, the mentally ill, ex-offenders, and youth, rather than just placing them in shelters;

_ Reducing by 25 percent the number of evictions of families with housing subsidies;

_ Offering educational, skill training, and advancement opportunities to promote the stability of homeless people; and

_ Maintaining high homeless housing production rates, with 225 units created through 2016.

“We are going to help our most challenged and medically frail homeless off the street; make sure that the mentally ill, ex-offenders, and youth don’t unnecessarily wind up in shelter, and help families in subsidized housing keep their homes, even when unexpected circumstances make it hard to pay rent,” said Menino.

The plan will be implemented through the Department of Neighborhood Development and the Shelter Commission, which is part of the Boston Public Health Commission.

The plan already has $2.4 million in available funding. Another $4.9 million will need to be raised during the next three years through reprioritizing existing resources and government and private funding, said Pollack.

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