Last month, we reported on a public meeting presented by the City regarding its plan to temporarily house homeless individuals from Mass and Cass in Mission Hill’s enVision Hotel.
However, the December meeting left residents with more questions than answers. This month, we followed up with Victory Programs Chief Program Officer Melinda Giovengo to learn more about the housing project funded by the City of Boston and the State of Massachusetts.
Victory Programs selected 41 homeless adults of all genders from Mass and Cass and is housing them at enVision Hotel in single occupancy rooms with private bathrooms. Streets to Home will help guests secure permanent or semipermanent housing within three to six months. As guests find housing, other homeless individuals will fill those vacancies.
The program is geared toward individuals struggling with substance use, mental health issues, and who are at high-risk for HIV/AIDS. Victory Programs believes that no person should be expected to surmount these difficult issues until they have stable housing.
In addition to housing services, on-site staff provides medical care, vaccine clinics, support for domestic violence and sex trafficking, legal aid and case management.
“All of this happens in a dignified safe space,” said Giovengo.
However, guests are not obliged to participate in programs.
“Participation is strongly encouraged and incentivized,” said Giovengo. “It has been demonstrated that services are more effective when a person chooses to engage.”
A security guard is on site from 4pm to 4am daily. Staff members are stationed on each floor, conducting regular safety checks. Guests are not allowed visitors. However, Victory Programs does not conduct random drug tests on guests. It failed to answer if it conducts random room searches for drug paraphernalia.
Despite saying last month that they would host another public meeting on the topic, Victory Programs has not scheduled one. A representative said they are willing to attend neighborhood association or community meetings if invited.
The Community Alliance of Mission Hill plans to address the issue at one its of its future meetings and will invite Victory Programs to address lingering public concerns. By then, there should be some initial impressions of how the program is impacting the local community.
CAMH reported that the December meeting, which was presented by the City Office of Neighborhood Services, did not allow adequate time or opportunity for the community to react to the proposed project. It looks forward to facilitating the conversation at its February meeting.
CAMH is currently compiling questions from the community regarding the enVision Hotel project. Questions can be emailed to [email protected].