Home for the Holidays

Robert sits in a chair talkingAfter a decade of homelessness, Robert, 55, found hope and shelter through St. Francis House’s Residential Housing Services Program called Next Step, located at 39 Boylston Street in Boston. A native of Lowell, Massachusetts, Robert, one of five children born to a homemaker mother and a carpenter father, faced challenges after high school due to bad hips and an injured shoulder, derailing his carpentry career.

“Things didn’t work out the way I wanted them to,” Robert said. “And then they just kept going down from there.” A DUI further complicated his life, leading to a cycle of difficulties. In 2013, Robert became homeless, surviving on the streets of Boston by frequenting St. Francis House and other shelters and soup kitchens across the city.

His life took a positive turn just a few weeks ago when, through St. Francis House’s Next Step program, Robert secured permanent housing — a fully furnished bedroom of his own. The program, catering to 56 low-income men and women who have experienced homelessness, provides congregate-style, single-occupancy rooms. Residents can access a range of services on campus, including meals, clothing, counseling, art therapy, and more.

Upon moving in, Robert wasted no time in assembling a To-Do list, ranging from tasks such as “buy 10 coat hangers” to scheduling essential health appointments. A medical appointment at St. Francis House marked a significant milestone for Robert — it was his first physical since high school. Equipped with a donated laptop, he is now connected online, eager to pursue education and acquire culinary skills.

As winter approaches, Robert expresses gratitude for St. Francis House’s comprehensive support. “St. Francis House does a great job all the way around to help the street people. I’m very happy to be here.”