Friday, May 10, 2024

UUA & United Way Letter To the Neighborhood Regarding 24 Farnsworth Family Shelter

FPNA contacted the team managing the temporary emergency family shelter at 24 Farnsworth Street regarding their plans to conclude operations. They informed us that, in an effort to minimize disruptions for families, the UUA and United Way intend to request an extension through June.

This additional time will allow families with children attending Boston Public Schools to remain in their current school until the last day of classes on June 20. It will also facilitate adjustments to programming at the YMCA as they transition to their summer schedule.

The United Way and UUA are deeply grateful to the neighborhood for providing a temporary home to their guests in Fort Point and for the support they have received.

The shelter team will be present at the FPNA Monthly Neighborhood Gathering on May 28th at 6:00 pm to address any questions you may have. 

Greater details are addressed in their letter to the neighborhood below:

Dear Neighbors and Members of the Fort Point Community, 

This letter is to share with you our plans for successfully concluding the Safety Net Shelter program currently hosted at 24 Farnsworth Street by the Unitarian Universalist Association, which we first introduced in a March 5 letter to the Fort Point Neighborhood Association (FPNA). As part of the statewide system of shelter for unhoused families, this temporary overnight shelter has been open since March and hosts 25 families with children. The project has been a collaborative effort between the UUA as the owner of the space, the United Way as the funder for the program, the Boston Refugee and Immigrant Community Coalition (BRICC) who operates the shelter, and the state Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC). 

The shelter’s operations have been smooth over the past two months. Residents are driven daily to the YMCA for use of their facilities, as well as to BRICC’s community center in the afternoons. School age children have been attending Boston Public Schools. Both BPS and the YMCA have also been excellent partners in this project. BRICC staff and their security team work closely with the UUA’s operations and facilities staff to manage the space and ensure the safety of our guests. 

We have now been able to clarify the timeline needed to wind down the shelter program, which will conclude no later than June 30, 2024. BRICC has identified placements for roughly half of the families and is on track to place all our current guests by that date. The shelter was initially approved for temporary occupancy by the City from March through May, a timeline which was reflected in the usage agreement between BRICC and the UUA for the space, and this plan will require a 30-day extension of that initial agreement and authorization. The UUA and the United Way are fully supportive of BRICC’s proposal to extend the agreement for another month, pending City approval, to allow BRICC to complete these housing placements and ensure children can finish out the school year. The June 30 deadline is firmly supported by the UUA and the United Way, at which point the UUA will be returning the space its office usage. 

We also want to clearly convey the successes of this project to date. Throughout the project, we have had an outstanding team of collaborators with BRICC, the City of Boston and the EOHLC. We are also grateful for the consistent support we have received from the Fort Point community and the City of Boston. We have remained in regular contact through the FPNA, and the United Way has received dozens of questions and supportive comments from nearby residents and business owners. We have also received incredible offers of donations from local businesses. Flour donates breakfast every Sunday for the clients at the shelter. The Children’s Museum provided about 50 tickets so that families could enjoy the offerings there. South Boston Neighborhood House played a role in collecting in-kind donations for the site. 

We are reaching out to you, the members of the neighborhood, to share this update as we proceed with this approach. If you have any questions, please share them through the South Boston Neighbors Contact Form on the United Way's website. We will join the next FPNA meeting on May 28 to continue our ongoing conversation with the neighborhood. 

This has been an excellent model for how collaborative efforts can bridge the gap to stable housing that gives our families a new foundation to thrive in our community. We are extremely appreciative of the ways in which the neighborhood helped us and our partners to maintain the well-being and dignity of our guests. 

Thank you again for your ongoing support. 


Carey McDonald
Executive Vice President
Unitarian Universalist Association 

Christi Staples
Vice President of Policy and Government Relations
United Way of Massachusetts Bay

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