More Friends of Boston's Homeless
Think it’s tough digging out your driveway? Try being homeless during a blizzard and Arctic chill. Meredith Management CEO John Rosenthal, chairman of the Friends of Boston's Homeless and a member of Mayor Walsh's task force seeking a permanent solution to homelessness, says the answer is to produce more affordable housing. In ’87, John founded FOBH after watching the Reagan Administration turn its back on the problem, he says. The real estate industry can and does help, and Bisnow also wants to lend a hand so we're donating 15% of the proceeds from a day of ticket sales for our upcoming Restaurant Development Summit.
In 1980, the federal budget for HUD, then the major funder of affordable housing production, was $34B/year and 200,000 Americans were homeless. When Ronald Reagan’s presidency ended in 1988, the HUD budget was $9B/year and now 2 million people are homeless (as was Graham, above), says John. About 25% of homeless people in the Boston area work a regular job. If it pays minimum wage, the person earns $800/month but it costs at least $1,600/month to rent a Boston apartment that’s not in a prime location, John says.
Over 28 years, Friends of Boston’s Homeless has raised $20M and has worked with the City to set up a continuum of shelter, job training, work experience, transitional housing, job placement and permanent housing for thousands of people like Ursel. Afterwards, 90% of FOBH clients don’t return to the streets or a shelter, which saves $9,300 a year per person in healthcare and public safety costs alone, John says. Mayor Walsh’s proposal to offer developers publicly owned land and tax breaks will help, John tells us. But the federal and state government have to pitch in more low-income subsidies and developer incentives to boost long-term affordable housing production.