It’s hunger and homelessness awareness week! Over the past few days, we’ve talked about the ways that Back Bay Mission helps people experiencing hunger and homelessness, as well as ways that we help prevent homelessness and provide a rapid response for people who who have fallen into homelessness. Ministries like the food pantry, the Micah Day Center, housing rehabilitation, and rapid rehousing make sure that people have the help they need to avoid — or to survive — tremendously difficult times.
But there’s one more critical layer to the work we do to strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives: helping people — including people who are hungry or homeless — begin their journeys out of poverty.
One program that helps people begin their journey out of homelessness is Home At Last. This ministry provides chronically homeless and disabled individuals and families with permanent supportive housing. That can be a confusing term, so lets take it in reverse order.
Permanent supportive housing is a housing program. It gets people off the street and into an affordable apartment (one that costs no more than 30% of their income). This housing first approach makes it easier to work on other issues that the family is facing. After all, it’s far easier to work on things like employment and health care when a family is in safe, decent, affordable housing.
Permanent supportive housing is supportive. While residents are staying in the apartment we provide, Mission staff work closely with them to help them meet personal and financial goals. These goals include things like applying for benefits, finding a job, and connecting with other service providers, all with the ultimate goal of helping that family find housing on their own.
Finally, permanent supportive housing is not permanent. The word ‘permanent’ differentiates this program from other, temporary, housing programs. Many temporary housing programs provide housing for a few months. And while that may be useful in some cases, in others it simply isn’t enough time to help a family achieve housing independence. Home At Last allows the family to stay as long as they’re following program rules and making progress. We won’t kick them out before they’re ready. And, once they’re ready, we help them make that transition to independence.
Home At Last focuses on helping people escape homelessness and become self-sufficient in regards to housing. Our Bridges Out of Poverty program works with people experiencing other kinds of poverty. This program leads participants through a 16-week class where they learn about poverty and develop plans and strategies to improve their economic circumstances. After the class, participants receive two years of mentoring from a community member who can guide them through rough patches. Or hope for all of our Bridges Out of Poverty participants is that they break the cycle of poverty in their own lives and return to help the next cohort do the same.
Ministries like Home At Last and Bridges Out of Poverty make sure that people aren’t left on their own or forced to rely on emergency assistance. They give people the opportunity and the resources to make their lives better and work towards self-sufficiency. They strengthen neighborhoods, seek justice, and transform lives.
And programs like Bridges Out of Poverty need your help!
This year, Back Bay Mission is raising money specifically for client sustainability programs like Bridges Out of Poverty, our community health initiatives, and our veterans support fund. You can learn more about this campaign, these vital programs, and how you can help on our campaign page!