More Support for Homeless in South End

Written by Brandon Lewis

Brandon Lewis
BU News Service

When Mick Kelly was released from jail two months ago, he had no place to turn to except for the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter in the South End. He said he’s been trying to integrate himself back into society while at the shelter, but it’s been difficult.

“The staff does the best they can with the people coming in,” Kelly said. “But there aren’t enough resources to help with my needs.”

Kelly works as a day laborer a few blocks away from Pine Street, which is much more than just a shelter. The organization has several locations across Boston and offers of a range of services such as job training and placement, permanent and emergency shelter, and meal services. Despite that, Kelly considers the shelter’s location on Harrison Avenue the primary benefit.

“I’ve heard of other shelters, but they’re too far out,” he said. “If it weren’t for this one, I wouldn’t know where else to go.”

A year ago, it would have been challenging for Kelly to find a place to stay.

In October 2014, Mayor Marty Walsh made the decision to close the Long Island Bridge in Boston Harbor due to its unsafe structural condition. The bridge provided access to a shelter that offered beds to over 400 people every night. As a result, many of them were displaced. Some ended up at a gym in the South End Fitness Center while others had to compete for cots in other shelters already operating at full capacity like the Pine Street Inn.

A year later, the situation seems to be improving.

In June, the mayor’s office announced plans to convert the Woods-Mullen shelter, a co-ed facility located on Massachusetts Avenue in the South End, to a women’s shelter with special programs to match their needs. A former transportation building on the border of the South End and Dorchester was converted to a shelter for men earlier this year and now provides over 400 beds.

Even though Kelly hopes to be out of the Pine Street Inn within the next month, there are more options for him and other homeless people in the area. He said he’s saving up his money to get an apartment in Boston but until then, he’ll continue to call Pine Street home.

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