Photo of Al with bird

Al’s Story

Battling depression after the death of his mother on Mother’s Day and unable to afford to stay in the home in which he grew up, Al packed a tent, some clothes and food and found a spot in the woods nearby. While it took Al some time to learn how to survive in nature, fighting weather and animals, he finally adjusted and spent the next 12 years living in the woods.

Through his church, a friend told him about North Shore Community Action Programs and MHSA’s Home & Healthy for Good (HHG) program. HHG helped Al secure stable housing and he was connected to supportive services he would have otherwise not been able to access while living outdoors. Al was impressed by how much his life turned around after getting his apartment — he has a social life and spends much of his time with his girlfriend and his pet bird.

Since 2006, the HHG program has placed more than 1,100 adults experiencing chronic homelessness — like Karen and Al — into permanent housing with supportive services, saving Massachusetts approximately $6,000 per tenant per year. HHG helps individuals establish a permanent address, in turn unlocking numerous Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits that can cover the expenses associated with treating the disabling conditions that impact individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. Less costly and more effective than managing homelessness and health problems on the street or in shelters, HHG has successfully demonstrated the tremendous savings in health care costs and other emergency services.