Guests always say that housing is their No. 1 need, and at St. Francis House we meet that need through our Housing Resource Center and Next Step Housing.
The Housing Resource Center uses a multi-pronged approach to help guests find good, affordable housing. Our innovative strategy enables us to assist all of our homeless guests, regardless of their circumstances, so that they have a stable base from which to rebuild their lives.
St. Francis House is also incredibly fortunate to have supportive housing right in our building. The Next Step Housing Program, on floors seven, eight, nine, and ten, provides single-occupancy rooms for 56 single, low-income men and women who have experienced homelessness, unemployment, and substance abuse.
When we ask our guests what they want, the number one answer is always “a place to live.”
At St. Francis House, we believe that everyone has the right to decent housing. Secure housing is essential to maintaining good mental health, sobriety, and self-sufficiency. But a lack of safe and affordable residential space in and around Boston makes the housing search incredibly difficult, particularly for those with mental health or substance abuse issues or criminal records.
Our Housing Resource Center, in partnership with HomeStart, enables us to help all of our homeless guests, regardless of their circumstances, obtain appropriate housing so that they have a stable base from which to rebuild their lives.
The Housing Resource Center uses a three-pronged approach to help ensure successful outcomes. The Housing Resource Center Coordinator ensures collaboration among the housing staff and hosts housing staff from outside agencies as well. She works with homeless guests one-on-one, assisting them with filling out applications for city, state or federal housing, helping them find and view apartments, and advocating with landlords, as necessary. The Housing Case Manager specializes in the rapid re-housing of guests who are currently living on the streets or in Boston shelters and just need an additional boost to help them quickly secure and transition successfully into housing. The third member of our team, the Housing Counselor, provides assistance with applications to Boston Public Housing, and with household essentials – sheets, silverware, pots and pans, etc. – for guests who find housing but cannot afford the basics.
Once guests find housing, our Housing Resource Center may be able to provide financial assistance to help with first- and last-month’s rent, moving costs, utility payments, and other expenses, thanks to the federal Emergency Solutions Grant program and private funding sources. This, along with our comprehensive approach, helps guests find and keep a place to call home.
St. Francis House has the ability to satisfy our guests’ number-one need – housing – right inside our building. That enables residents to utilize all of our services, from meals to counseling to art therapy, without leaving 39 Boylston Street.
Next Step Housing is a supportive leased-housing community providing permanent sober housing for people who have experienced homelessness. Residents benefit from the assistance of professional case managers who provide individual support, foster sobriety, and aid the development of life skills required for community reintegration and independence.
Next Step occupies floors 7, 8, 9, and 10 of St. Francis House, offering 56 Single Resident Occupancy rooms. Each floor houses both men and women and features a shared kitchen, bathrooms, and dining and community areas. Two of the four floors are handicapped accessible. The program also houses a fitness room, computer room, library, and crafts room for the use of all program residents.
Next Step residents participate weekly in individual case management and floor meetings as well as monthly community meetings. Residents have no curfew and are welcome to have guests during the day and evening hours.
Applicants must possess documentation of homelessness as defined by HUD, have achieved 6 months of sobriety, and should either be employed or willing to work or to engage in other meaningful activity. Some units also require documentation of disability in accordance with HUD eligibility rules.
Residents are required to actively participate in case management and support services, agree to random drug and alcohol testing, and attend mandatory meetings. Residents are required to pay rent, which is calculated on 30-35% of their gross income from all income sources.
For more information, call St. Francis House at (617) 542-4211 or contact Next Step.