State Announces Supports for Individuals Struggling with Homelessness, Substance Use

BOSTON — The Baker-Polito administration announced more than $30 million for new regional and statewide services, including strategies to provide a pathway from homelessness to stability to recovery for individuals facing homelessness and substance-use disorders. Investments include additional funding for substance-use treatment, street outreach, youth substance-use prevention programs, and substance-use treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women, as well as a hospital discharge-planning kit. This funding also includes a $10 million capital fund for permanent supportive housing.

“Today’s announcement is a comprehensive, cross-agency plan to improve the discharge process,” Gov. Charlie Baker said. “We are pleased to implement new federal funding through MassHealth and continue to invest in permanent supportive housing that provides long-term stability and services to help people thrive.”

Added Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, “our healthcare and shelter service providers were vigilant in their work throughout the pandemic to protect our most vulnerable populations. We believe these new resources, technical assistance, and funding will be a game changer for our service providers working on behalf of our most vulnerable residents.”

The Department of Public Health’s Bureau of Substance Addiction Services (BSAS) is awarding $15.7 million over five years to serve 75 to 80 individuals at any given time in Lawrence, Quincy, Brockton, Holyoke, Worcester, Lowell, and Springfield for low-threshold permanent housing and support services. This funding will provide low-threshold permanent housing for unaccompanied adults experiencing homelessness along with services that help people maintain their housing. Sobriety is not a requirement of accessing or maintaining housing, as this service is a Housing First model.

This initiative builds upon the administration’s December 2020 announcement of $2 million awarded to Boston-based nonprofit organizations Commonwealth Land Trust and Victory Programs to provide housing and services for individuals experiencing homelessness.

The FY 2022 budget signed by Baker last month invests a total of $408 million across state agencies to comprehensively address substance misuse. This represents a $72.8 million (22%) increase over FY 2021 investments to help address these challenges, which were amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. In total, the administration and the Legislature have boosted funding by more than $288 million since 2015.

“By connecting patients — and their healthcare providers — with housing and treatment resources, we can make a meaningful reduction in the number of individuals entering homelessness,” said Marylou Sudders, secretary of Health and Human Services. “This comprehensive plan and investment in tools, training, and technical assistance continues Massachusetts’ position as a national leader in leveraging healthcare resources to reduce homelessness.”

The Executive Office of Health and Human Service and the Department of Public Health have also awarded $3.2 million to Pine Street Inn in Boston to engage people experiencing homelessness and provide access to services and supports, including for substance -se treatment, primary healthcare, sheltering and housing search, and overdose prevention.

To ensure that individuals do not experience homelessness again, the administration is also committed to increasing the amount of available housing. DHCD has announced a new, $10 million capital fund for permanent supportive housing with single-room occupancies, as well as new, dedicated state housing vouchers to expand housing access for individuals experiencing homelessness. More than 100 housing vouchers will be used to increase exits from shelter into stable housing.

Last week, Massachusetts announced $139 million for the production and preservation of more than 1,300 affordable-housing units, including a new project in Quincy for individuals experiencing homelessness.

“Massachusetts has an incredible ecosystem of healthcare and service providers dedicated to supporting our most vulnerable populations. This new set of investments and tools will help providers navigate state resources and improve outcomes for patients and clients,” said Jennifer Maddox, Housing and Community Development undersecretary. “We are pleased to contribute to this cross-agency collaboration, continue financing housing for individuals experiencing homelessness, and affirm our dedication to making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring.”