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Request for Information sought from local, regional providers interested in providing low-threshold transitional housing in Boston

The City is seeking partners for staffing and programming sites secured by the City of Boston. Providers who specialize in — or want to expand into — homeless services and harm reduction are encouraged to reply.

The Office of Health and Human Services today announced a Request for Information for providers who can help scale transitional housing and stabilization models for individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness and substance use and mental health disorders. These models will include:

  • Sobering center - Sobering centers provide up to 24 hours of medical monitoring for individuals with acute mental health or substance use needs and help individuals connect to the next level of care.
  • Overnight respite/low-threshold shelter - Shelters that are low-threshold for individuals with a substance use disorder – otherwise referred to as overnight respite - allow individuals to bring in harm reduction supplies, allow individuals to leave and return during the night, and have clinical expertise for supporting the needs of individuals with a substance use disorder. 
  • Transitional housing - This housing is short-term, typically less than six months. Supportive services assist individuals with transitioning and stabilizing from the street. These services help residents access behavioral health care, maintain their housing, and prepare for a permanent placement.

The Request for Information is now open, and responses are due by Monday, November 22, 2021 at 5 p.m.

Potential partners do not need to have experience with all elements of transitional housing and stabilization models and can specialize in one or several types of service areas. The short RFI asks providers to share their experience delivering services to this population, the capacity they have to scale services in Boston, and the support they would need to do so. Responses to this RFI will inform a Request for Proposals later this month. Providers selected through the RFP will be awarded contracts to expand overnight low-threshold models in Boston.

“Providers in Boston have been on the front lines delivering critical services to individuals navigating homelessness and behavioral health challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Chief of Health and Human Services Marty Martinez. “We are seeking providers from Boston and beyond - including those who have not worked with the City of Boston before - to add to our capacity to serve this population.”

Boston has a long history of serving our most vulnerable residents. In 2015, Boston created the first municipal Office of Recovery Services to coordinate the City’s response to substance use and addiction. Since then, the City has invested in harm reduction services, Narcan and overdose prevention programming, treatment referral programs, and low-threshold drop-in space for accessing substance use services. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating impacts on individuals navigating homelessness, substance use, and mental health challenges. For example, the pandemic fueled an increase in overdose deaths nationwide, statewide, and citywide, due to factors including using substances as a means to cope with extreme levels of social isolation, socioeconomic hardships, and disconnect from services. Overall, the pandemic led the volume, complexity, and acuity of need on Boston’s streets to increase. On October 19, 2021, former Mayor Kim Janey issued an executive order to address public health and encampments in Boston. Among other priorities, the executive order calls for increasing the availability of housing and treatment resources for individuals living unsheltered. 


The Mayor's Office of Health and Human Services (HHS) is the largest cabinet in the City with ten departments and offices that span work across multiple communities all striving to create a healthier Boston. Committed to promoting and ensuring the health and well-being of the City's most vulnerable residents, HHS provides a wide array of critical programs and services all while advocating for systemic change to tackle root causes of some of our most pressing challenges in the City. HHS departments work with and for the populations with the greatest needs in our city, including Veterans, youth, persons with disabilities and our aging residents.  

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