Manley Street Health Resource Center, Brockton – 2022

Manley Street Health Resource Center, Brockton – 2022

Homeless shelter plans to move out of downtown Brockton, build this $18M campus

Father Bill’s & MainSpring homeless shelter plans to relocate out of downtown Brockton, upgrading to a new facility with a new model of addressing homelessness.

The new facility, which would be located at 124 Manley St. next to the Brockton VA Medical Center, would help shift the focus toward preventing homelessness in addition to providing emergency shelter, according to the shelter’s President John Yazwinski.

“It’s a place where we could create a housing resource center for people that are at risk of homelessness,” he said. “So have prevention services, have daytime services, have a licensed health care clinic, really look at it as a new model to address homelessness.”

The 3.5-acre property would include 32 apartments that would serve as permanent housing for people who have been experiencing homelessness long-term, and would be open 24 hours every day as a “one-stop shop” for those at risk for homelessness.

This is the rendering of Father Bill & MainSpring’s Proposed new facility located on 124 Manley St. Courtesy Patrick Ronan Of Father Bills

Currently, the MainSpring shelter only receives funding for nighttime services – including a bed and one meal for each individual. The new property would offer a place to stay during the day and provide services to help individuals pay for rent, pay health bills or find a job.

“Right know, the shelter is very reactionary,” said Yazwinski. “We want this to also really focus on prevention. We want a resource center where people are calling us before they become homeless.”

The property was previously a U.S. Army reserve center that was long vacated, and the federal government declared it a “Title V property” in 2020, authorizing it to be used by those experiencing homelessness. Father Bill’s & MainSpring was awarded the land in May 2021, gaining full control of the site in November 2021. The shelter now waits for enough funding to build and open the new facility.

Yazwinski said the project could cost $18 million, with around $12 million coming from public funding.

“Father Bill’s & MainSpring is going to have to raise close to $3 to $4 million privately to be able to make this project work,” he said.

A similar project has already been fully funded at the organization's second shelter in Quincy, with its new facility already under construction.

Leaving downtown

Conversations of relocating the shelter out of downtown Brockton have been happening with city officials as far back as 2016 when former Mayor Bill Carpenter assembled a homelessness task force. But, Yazwinski said the current model has been discussed internally over the last 10 years.

“Our organization has been looking to really develop a new response to homelessness,” he said, “where we look at preventing homelessness, diverting homeless and if people do still end up becoming homeless, which does happen, of course, how do we then rapidly rehouse them immediately?”

The lessons of COVID devastation

With an average of roughly 1,000 people coming through the shelter every year before the pandemic, Father Bill’s & MainSpring struggled once the pandemic hit. The shelter suffered a 32% infection rate during the early months, but that number dwindled to 2% once they switched to the "hotel method" of giving each person their own isolated space.

The organization even bought the nearby Rodeway Inn in 2021 to increase the amount of people they could shelter during the pandemic.

On average, the MainSpring House provides emergency shelter for around 130 people every night, but only 51 of those beds are funded by the state. The rest are privately funded. According to Father Bill’s & MainSpring’s data, around 350 families seek emergency shelter every year within the region.

“(The pandemic) highlighted the need to continue to develop more permanent supportive housing that’s affordable for our poorest neighbors,” Yazwinski said.

Article Credit: The Enterprise