BOSTON – Friday, July 26, 2019 – Building on Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s long-standing commitment to creating a coordinated response to youth homelessness, the Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) was recently awarded $75,000 as part of the Heartland Alliance’s National Center on Employment & Homelessness’ Pathways Forward Challenge to help incorporate workforce development efforts into the City of Boston’s ongoing response to addressing youth and young adult homelessness.
The grant will be used over a two-and-a-half year period to facilitate regular convenings of leadership from workforce development programs, housing and homelessness service agencies, and youth with lived experience of homelessness. The overarching goal of these meetings is to ensure Boston’s workforce development ecosystem more effectively meets the needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness and housing instability.
“In Boston, we know several factors play a role in housing instability, including economic mobility,” said Mayor Walsh. “By including workforce development in the conversation on homelessness, we are building on the collaborative work that is underway to ensure everyone can call Boston home.”
At the convenings, members will address issues such as improving procedures for identifying youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The culmination of this work will result in the production and publication of a report which will bring broader attention to the intersection of workforce development and homelessness issues that impact youth and young adults.
“With guidance from Mayor Walsh, our office is uniquely positioned to drive systemic change that can create access to career pathway opportunities for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness,” said OWD Director Trinh Nguyen. “We know there is a role for each of us in helping to end youth homelessness, especially in the workforce industry. From job training to mentorship to building career pathways, we can ensure that all young adults have access to the same resources and opportunities.”
OWD will work with a variety of city agencies and outside organizations for this project, including: the City’s Department of Neighborhood Development, the City’s Health and Human Services Cabinet, Boston Youth Action Board, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and St. Francis House.
“We know that increasing access to employment is one of the keys to solving the problem of homelessness among youth and young adults,” said Laila Bernstein, Advisor to the Mayor for the Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness. “Gainful employment provides skills and training that can lead to future jobs and also provides connections and relationships that can help prevent youth and young adults from becoming homeless again. We are excited to work with our partner agencies and workforce providers to connect homeless youth with opportunities in the workplace.”
Mayor Walsh highlighted unaccompanied youth and young adults as one of the priority populations in Boston’s Way Home, the City’s action plan to end chronic homelessness. The plan outlines resources for youth and young adults to access better permanent connections, education and employment, and improve their health and well-being. To date, the plan has resulted in ending chronic homelessness among veterans and a 36 percent reduction in overall veteran homelessness. Additionally, through this plan, the City has experienced a 20 percent reduction in chronic homelessness over the last 3 years. Boston’s Way Home is supported by the Boston’s Way Home Fund, established as part of Mayor Walsh’s second-term inauguration. The fund will help to create 200 units of supportive, sustainable, long-term housing for homeless men and women.
Mayor Walsh’s Fiscal Year 2020 budget includes significant investments aimed at ending homelessness, such as $1 million to provide connections to employment, rental assistance and supportive services for youth. In addition, the FY20 budget includes an investment that will fund four formerly homeless individuals to work as peer navigators across shelters in Boston connecting individuals currently experiencing chronic homelessness with permanent housing pathways. The budget also includes an expansion in outreach services to provide assessment, crisis intervention and intensive case management services to unsheltered individuals drawn to spaces and resources of the Boston Public Library.
Earlier this year, Heartland Alliance’s National Initiatives on Poverty & Economic Opportunity put out a call to communities across the nation for ideas on how to increase employment and income for people experiencing homelessness through systems change. After a rigorous review process, Boston was selected as one of seven communities selected to advance their systems ideas through the Pathways Forward Challenge. The other communities include: Allegheny County, PA, Baltimore, MD, Chicago, IL, Houston/Harris County, TX, Santa Clara County, CA and Tarrant County, TX. The selected communities will receive financial resources, technical assistance and support from the Heartland Alliance.
About the Department of Neighborhood Development
The Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) works with communities to improve Boston’s neighborhoods through investing public resources. DND’s main jobs are to create housing options, support tenants, foster homeownership, end homelessness, and manage the City’s real estate.
About the Office of Workforce Development
The Mayor’s Office of Workforce Development (OWD) is an innovative agency within the Boston Planning & Development Agency that seeks to ensure the full participation of all Boston residents in the city’s economic vitality and future. OWD funds and oversees programs that promote workforce development through education, jobs training, apprenticeships, financial coaching, career pathways, literacy initiatives, and the like. Please visit OWD.Boston.Gov to learn more about OWD’s work.