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The city’s Commissioner of Health & Human Services and the Director of Planning circulated a letter today outlining why they have recommended not funding the Engine 6 proposal to build a group home for the chronically homeless in Newton.

Our business is to focus on people and outcomes for people. We recommended against bringing the Engine 6 project forward in the Development Review Team on September 18, 2013 because we believe taking people and housing them in a fairly isolated area with all services available in Boston is not a formula for success.

Here are the facts as we understand them from multiple presentations by the Pine Street Inn and the developer:

The 9 people who would be housed would be chronically homeless with a disability

  •  We asked how services would be delivered and were told people would return to Boston on the T
  •  Individuals would sign on to a service plan each year with a counselor; a big component of the service plan would be attendance at AA or Narcotics Anonymous meetings. We asked where in Newton these meetings are held and whether these locations are accessible by public transportation. No answer was forthcoming.
  • We asked where people would buy food since each apartment would have a kitchen. The answer was that they would take the T to Star Market in Chestnut Hill.
  • Medical, mental health, job, education and any other services would be available in Boston by taking the T
  • Pine Street Inn currently runs 500 units clustered from 6 to 50 units in Brookline and Boston. We asked how many people in these established units have jobs. The answer was 17%.

We want to focus on outcome measures for individuals in Newton. We asked for additional outcomes for those housed in other Pine Street Inn units and are still waiting for some of those answers. We cannot support spending limited CDBG money on housing that does not provide readily accessible services for those in need and that does not attempt to integrate residents into the fabric of our community.

Dori Zaleznik, MD
Commissioner of Health & Human Services

Candace Havens

Director or Planning