Catholic Charities Opens Safety Net Shelter

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — The first overnight safety-net shelter has opened in Greater Boston under a $5 million public grant program managed by United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

Catholic Charities Boston launched a shelter site on Tuesday that can house up to 27 families, or around 81 people, United Way announced Wednesday morning. Families who are eligible for state-funded emergency shelter but cannot be immediately housed due to a waitlist will be directed to the safety net site, United Way said. The site's location was not announced.

"It is heartbreaking to see families living with uncertainty of where they will sleep at night - with the arrival of colder weather we are grateful for the Governor and her administration's leadership and our partners at United Way in activating funds quickly to stand up this emergency shelter plan," Kelley Tuthill, president of Catholic Charities Boston, said in a statement. "We are also very grateful to our staff who are working diligently to support the many people in need of care and comfort during these difficult times."

Just over 100 people were on the state's shelter system waitlist as of Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities.

Catholic Charities Boston, which already operates a hotel emergency shelter in the Boston area, will handle bedding, meals, staff and security at its new facility. State officials on Monday also opened a temporary shelter site at MBTA headquarters.

With the state's emergency shelter system capped at a 7,500-family limit imposed by Gov. Maura Healey, her administration announced the grant program on Nov. 7. Healey's office said prospective sites include communal gathering spaces with restroom facilities and heat, such as community centers, school buildings, and places of worship.

United Way said it's received "several" applications" so far, and it connected with more than 160 providers and stakeholders about the grant program last week during an informational session.

"The informational sessions we held have generated many conversations with a wide range of property owners, supportive service organizations, and community groups who want to help, and we are encouraging them to apply for the program or connecting them with other ways that they can be of most assistance to families during this time," Sarah Bartley, vice president of safe and stable housing at United Way, said in a statement.

Written by Alison Kuznitz/SHNS

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