Senate Bill Would Establish 'Supportive Housing' For Homeless

By Sarah Birnbaum

July 22, 2011

BOSTON — The Massachusetts Senate unanimously approved a bill Thursday that would develop so-called “supportive housing” units as part of a plan to end homelessness.
The bill would create up to 1,000 units of housing over the next three years for use by Massachusetts residents at risk of homelessness. But the plan expands the scope of traditional affordable housing: The new units would provide a range of social services on site, including job training, mental-health counseling and substance-abuse counseling. 
State officials say that chronically homeless families use shelters and emergency rooms at great expense to taxpayers — and that providing them with permanent housing and accessible social services will help reduce that cost.
State Senator Jamie Eldridge of Acton says the bill dovetails with Governor Patrick’s “Housing First” program, which aims to end homelessness by 2013.
“What this program is designed to do is to help those families, particularly who have been in hotels and motels who have been staying in shelters for a long period of time, and help place them in more permanent housing, into an apartment,” Eldridge said. “And also provide wraparound supportive services. So I would really highlight that this bill is a compliment to that policy.”
The new units would also offer specialized assistance for low-income elderly residents and people with disabilities. 
The bill now heads to the House.

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