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Pine Street Inn: Ending Homelessness by Fostering Independence

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Moving people from homelessness to housing and finding employment are the goals of Pine Street Inn. Founded in 1969, this South-End-based organization works to end homelessness by fostering independence in those it serves.

According to Director of Communications Barbara Trevisan, "Pine Street Inn offers permanent housing, job training and placement, emergency shelter and street outreach to over 1,600 men and women daily." This means that:

  • Over 875 tenants live in 39 affordable housing throughout Boston and Brookline with 24-hour support staff.
  • More than 670 beds in three locations are available for emergency shelter.
  • Roughly 3,500 meals are prepared each day in Pine Street's kitchen, (2,000 for Pine Street's guests and tenants, with 1,500 for outside catering.
  • About 115 unsheltered homeless men and women are served daily by outreach workers on foot and by van with the organization providing nighttime street services in all of Boston.
  • More than 700 men and women a year finish training programs in food services, building maintenance and housekeeping or work with IMPACT Employment Services, who counsel and assist in placing homeless job seekers.
  • Pine Street has two social enterprises with 100 percent of profits going toward funding for their training programs. One business, iCater, provides breakfast and lunch catering for private businesses, as well as meals for non-profits, schools or institutions. Boston HandyWorks is a second business that makes and sells premium, long-lasting cutting boards that started as mere scraps of American Hard Rock Maple or American Cherry woods.

    "Our goal is to help tenants integrate back into the community," says Trevisan. Some do volunteer work, plant gardens, or help with community events and celebrations. "We hope they gain the confidence and life skills they will need to move on with their lives," explains Trevisan.

    Mental health and substance-abuse treatment are key components for many aided by Pine Street. "Case management and support services," notes Trevisan, "are critical to helping once-homeless people retain their housing and integrate into their community." Recovery, post detox and maintenance programs are available. These specialized programs are run by skilled clinical staff.

    Often homeless women and men are kept from housing or jobs because of misdemeanor or nonviolent felony crimes. Since 2011, Judge Kathleen Coffey has held Homeless Court one morning a month at Pine Street based on a similar model in San Diego. Those involved in this court are rewarded for their positive behavior, committed to substance-abuse treatment, job training, or mental health counseling and many have had their cases resolved or dismissed.

    Just as Pine Street Inn tenants help within local neighborhoods and Judge Coffey aids in court resolutions, area residents often support the organization by preparing meals, setting up fundraisers, or directly donating food or funds. That's how a community comes together to end homelessness.

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    About The Author

    Elizabeth R. Elstien has worked in real estate for over 15 years as a real estate...

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