BIDMC Grant Helps to Combat Homelessness and Health Inequity

FEBRUARY 16, 2024

Boston Nonprofit Combats Homelessness and Health Inequity

Homelessness is a public health issue, and experiencing it at any point can reduce quality of life.

A 2023 report from the Boston Public Health Commission found that the city’s unhoused population is significantly more likely to suffer chronic anxiety and receive treatment for depression. It also found that homelessness was associated with a higher risk for health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.

Due to systemic factors, historically underserved groups are at higher risk of experiencing housing instability. That means homelessness exacerbates health inequity and widens the health outcomes gap.

Tackling Homelessness at the Roots

As part of our commitment to supporting impactful programs in our communities, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) awarded Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Bridge) a three-year grant to expand its work with unaccompanied homeless or unstably housed youth and young adults.

Bridge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting runaway, unhoused and other high-risk youth. Its programs are designed to put youth on the path to independence in order to help them achieve happy, meaningful lives.

“The funding that we were able to get through BIDMC helped us to expand our street outreach,” said Peter Ducharme, the clinical director at Bridge. “Youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness are not always easy to find. So this helped us to expand our team and reach neighborhoods that we have not historically been able to go to in the past.”

While Bridge has a proven track record conducting outreach in downtown Boston and other urban hotspots, it sought to develop a consistent strategy for reaching into other neighborhoods. With the funding from BIDMC, Bridge has not only expanded its footprint in the city, it has also built a sustainable strategy it can replicate for years to come.

“Our street outreach workers have been going throughout Roxbury and Dorchester mostly,” said Ducharme. “We’ve been at Four Corners, the Bowdoin/Geneva area as well as all throughout Roxbury, from Roxbury Crossing, really all the way towards the South End.”

On the Path to Future Success

The results of BIDMC’s partnership with Bridge Over Troubled Waters have been astounding. Since receiving funding, Bridge helped:

  • 58 youth access consistent counseling services
  • 24 youth obtain housing
  • 39 youth obtain employment

“These outcomes demonstrate that we are not just focused on housing, but also the ongoing behavioral health therapy and career support that enhance each young person’s overall health and quality of life,” said Melissa Cording, director of development at Bridge. “We are grateful to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center for their help expanding this pathway for youth in our priority neighborhoods and look forward to continuing this work.”

As Bridge looks ahead to 2024 and beyond, it will continue to provide needed services to at-risk youth to put them on the path to self-sufficiency.

Learn more about our efforts to address community health needs.

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a leading academic medical center, where extraordinary care is supported by high-quality education and research. BIDMC is a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and consistently ranks as a national leader among independent hospitals in National Institutes of Health funding. BIDMC is the official hospital of the Boston Red Sox.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center is a part of Beth Israel Lahey Health, a health care system that brings together academic medical centers and teaching hospitals, community and specialty hospitals, more than 4,700 physicians and 39,000 employees in a shared mission to expand access to great care and advance the science and practice of medicine through groundbreaking research and education.