Overcoming Homelessness

Stephanie Pagones
BU News Service
Homeless only four years ago, Michael Christian, 50, today has a place to live, a steady job and enough money to afford food and simple necessities.
But for many people who live on the streets, moving up and out of homelessness is a daunting task. According to Dr. Eileen Murphy, a psychiatrist who treats the homeless, many chronically homeless people refuse housing because of addiction and mental illness. But for Christian, there was a pathway out.
With the help of the city’s 11 available homeless programs, including overnight centers and daytime programs, and the other options offered within Roxbury, such as the Sojourner House and Renewal House shelters, Christian was able to overcome homelessness in 2010.

“I used to be homeless,” he said as he packed up his white motorbike and placed his helmet on his head. “I haven’t been homeless for four years.”

Christian went to Pine Street and then went into the Victory Program, an agency that provides treatment programs to those addicted to drugs or alcohol.  Christian said from there he moved into Section 8 housing.
While the number of unsheltered homeless individuals decreased by more than 40 people from the previous year, 139 individuals were found to be living on the streets on Boston, according to the 2015 City of Boston Annual Homeless Census. The number of homeless people in Boston increased to more than 7,600.

Yet, Christian said there is still not enough being done for the homeless population.

Fair Williams, 60, resident of Roxbury, often sees homeless people loitering at Dudley Square Station, begging for money, food, or work.

“[I see homeless] in so many areas,” she said.  “It’s looking like there aren’t that much services around. It looks like people aren’t doing much about it.”

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