Our History

  • 1984
    In 1984, St. Francis House was founded to meet the needs of people experiencing poverty and homelessness. The organization grew quickly from a simple bread line into a multi-service shelter.
  • 1988

    In 1988, St. Francis House was named a National Model Program by the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ Committee on Hunger and Homelessness.

  • 1990

    In 1990, St. Francis House was named a National Model Program by the Social Security Administration for our representative payee program that enables guests to receive their benefits.

  • 1994

    In 1994, St. Francis House was chosen as a National Model Program by the U.S. House of Representatives Speaker’s Task Force on Homelessness – one of four agencies selected in the nation and the only shelter offering daytime services for the poor and homeless.

  • 1995

    In 1995, St. Francis House began the Moving Ahead Program (MAP), a comprehensive, 14-week job and life skills training program now serving 200 students a year. Since its establishment, more than 1,500 students graduated from the program.

  • 1997

    In 1997, St. Francis House opened the Next Step Housing Program, now providing 56 units of supported permanent housing to those who have struggled with homelessness, unemployment, and substance use disorder with affordable, independent living.

  • 2000

    In 2000, MAP was named a National Model Program by the Congressional Black Caucus.

  • 2004

    In 2004, St. Francis House celebrated its 20th anniversary and concluded major building renovations. The kitchen and dining room were expanded, and a new Atrium provided space for 80 additional guests who once had to wait on the street for meals. We also dedicated the Carolyn Connors Women’s Center to serve the unique needs of our female guests.

  • 2007

    In 2007, St. Francis House embarked on a $15.1 million capital campaign, Under One Roof, to build out our 5th floor and enroll an additional 100 students a year in MAP; add 14 new units of permanent housing on our 7th floor; sustain and enrich key core services; strengthen our infrastructure; repair the exterior of our 100 year-old building; and help secure our financial future.

  • 2008

    In 2008, St. Francis House was selected by the Bank of America’s Neighborhood Excellence Initiative as one of two Neighborhood Builder award recipients in Massachusetts. This prestigious award included $200,000 to support core services as well as leadership training.

  • 2010

    In 2010, the 100th class graduated from the Moving Ahead Program. We implemented the LEAD instrument, a collaboration between the Harvard Medical School Division on Addictions, the Cambridge Health Alliance, and St. Francis House to assess the effectiveness of all our programs to improve guest outcomes.

  • 2019

    In 2019, St. Francis House celebrated its 35th anniversary and opened the ‘Room to Grow’ Recovery Support Center to help people who are in all stages of recovery from substance use disorder learn to live and enjoy life on a new path. It is the only recovery center of its kind operating within a homeless shelter.

  • In 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, St. Francis House remained open and adapted all of its programs and services to safely continue supporting people experiencing homelessness and poverty. In partnership with the City of Boston, our team leased the Charles River Inn to operate a 24-hour temporary winter shelter for 100 individuals.

  • 2021

    In 2021, St. Francis House partnered with the City of Boston to open the new Willow at Woods facility in an effort to care for women from the encampment at Mass. & Cass.

  • 2022

    In 2022, the Moving Ahead Program celebrated its 200th graduating class.

  • 2023

    In 2023, we launched an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for our guests navigating substance use disorders and mental health issues. Managed by our behavioral health clinicians, the dual-diagnosis treatment program is the first of its kind in a day shelter.