Nov 8, 2021

Safe Havens are supervised and supportive housing for people who are homeless and have multiple health and disability conditions and who have not been successful in traditional housing or shelters.

Safe Havens are designed to serve hard-to-reach, hard-to-engage individuals who are chronically unhoused with severe and often co-occurring mental health and substance use conditions.

In 2020, 1,459 adults (without children) were chronically homeless in Massachusetts. These individuals are among the highest users of emergency departments, hospital beds, and emergency medical services, and have high rates of criminal legal system involvement.

Safe Haven programs offer transitional housing, connect individuals to behavioral health and medical services, and serve as a bridge to permanent housing. Safe Haven residents receive help in securing benefits; assistance completing housing applications and creating a housing plan; connections to self-help groups, medication management, and linkages to behavioral health care; social supports and community re-entry skills; and crisis intervention, when needed.

Safe Havens are a proven model in Massachusetts and across the country. For example, the Safe Haven in Westfield, Massachusetts has served 38 people since 2016. Twenty-two of these individuals now have independent housing; only one was discharged for non-compliance.

A 2020 BCSBMA Foundation study found that individuals enrolled in permanent supportive housing programs in Massachusetts have significantly lower total per-person per-year MassHealth costs compared to a similar group of chronically homeless individuals. Safe Havens save and transform lives, reduce health care and other public health costs, and improve quality of life for everyone.

The pandemic exacerbated the needs of many vulnerable populations because of the closure of shelter beds and an increased need for mental health and addiction treatment services. Expanding access to Safe Havens programs is vital to serve these individuals and offer them a pathway to supportive housing and treatment.

MAMH is committed to expanding these programs across the state, as they are predominantly located in the greater Boston area today. More funding is needed to achieve regional equity.

For more information, please view Safe Haven fact sheet and Safe Haven slide deck.

“Safe Havens save and transform lives, reduce health care and other public health costs, and improve quality of life for everyone.”

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