scorecardresearch Skip to main content

Mayor Wu announces $16.5 million in federal funds to help homeless people

A cleanup crew member removed a tent on Atkinson Street near Mass. and Cass, the epicenter of the city's homelessness and opioid crisis.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Speaking to a packed basement at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul in downtown Boston on Thursday, Mayor Michelle Wu announced the city is receiving a $16.5 million grant from the federal government for housing and supportive services for homeless people.

The funding, which comes from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be split among several groups that help homeless residents, according to Wu’s administration, and could help about 370 people in the city get back on their feet.

“Housing is the foundation of everything else that we are trying to do to keep communities healthy, safe, and connected,” Wu told the crowd.


As part of the breakdown of funds, Wu’s office said Eliot Community Services will receive $6.2 million over three years to house 105 homeless people from Mass. and Cass or “other high-risk settings.”

The Mass. and Cass area, which refers to the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard, is the epicenter of the city and region’s opioid and homelessness crises and an open-air illicit drug market that has bedeviled multiple mayoral administrations. Sheila Dillon, the city’s housing chief, said about 150 people congregate in the area daily, and that many of them are not homeless.

Additionally, under the grant funding, the Boston Housing Authority will receive $5.3 million to create 137 new housing vouchers. Family Aid Boston will receive $1.8 million to place 10 families in transitional housing for about three months and help those families find permanent accommodations. Ecumenical Social Action Committee will receive $1.7 million to house 16 households of people with a “focus on underserved youth, young parents, and LGBTQ+ youth who are least likely to seek shelter and services due to safety issues in the adult and family shelter system,” according to the Wu administration.

Meanwhile, Pine Street Inn will receive $1.3 million over three years to help 75 clients in housing authority units.


With the city still in the grips of a relentless housing crisis, Wu highlighted that last year Boston permitted the greatest number of affordable units in a quarter century. She acknowledged that the city is in a time of “such great need” and that while there is no single solution for homelessness, working toward securing shelter for all “must be done.”

“We must solve this together,” she said.

The announcement came a week after the mayor’s office distributed fliers informing dozens of people living in tents on the side road of Atkinson Street at Mass. and Cass that they wouldn’t be allowed to have encampments there anymore. City officials on Monday cleared tents from the area in an effort to enforce its anti-encampment policy.

At the news conference, state Senator Lydia Edwards, of East Boston, said that “people recover better when they are housed.”

“It’s a mental health issue, it’s a health issue, period, to have housing,” she said.

Richard Cho, senior adviser for housing and services at HUD, called Boston a “city that believes that homelessness should not exist.”

During a media scrum after the news conference, Dillon, the housing chief, said the vast majority of the grant money will be used for housing subsidies with related support services. The funding will be spent over the next three years, she said.

“This resource is for our unsheltered population throughout the city,” Dillon said.


The grant money comes on top of an early April announcement outlining $42 million in HUD funding to bolster nonprofits that help the homeless in Boston.

Danny McDonald can be reached at Follow him @Danny__McDonald.