QUINCY – Homeless shelter operator Father Bill's & MainSpring broke ground on its latest venture, a new building that will include long-term housing and related services, on Tuesday morning as the funeral for Frank McCauley – the former Quincy mayor who provided a city building for the shelter – took place in Houghs Neck.
Father Bill's & MainSpring is starting work on a new housing resource center and emergency homeless shelter on Broad Street to replace its current building, which will be torn down when the city builds a new police station on the same land.
Initial plans would have forced the shelter to relocate temporarily while construction on the two projects overlapped, but a recent influx of capital money allowed the first phase of Father Bill's two-phase project to start ahead of schedule. It is expected to be finished by 2023.
"To do a project like this for the people that are struggling with homelessness, you need political will," said Father Bill's & MainSpring CEO John Yazwinski. "This is a great public-private partnership. We're all stepping up, coming out of a pandemic and saying, 'We can do better to end homelessness in the state and the community.'"
The new facility will aim to serve unhoused people in a different way than the old building, which is set up as an emergency shelter to house people each day after 4 p.m.
The new emergency shelter and housing resource center – the first phase of the project – will have 75 beds to house the homeless overnight. That is about 60 fewer beds than the current shelter, but the facility will be configured to be expanded if necessary. It is designed as a day facility and will provide services such as mental health counseling, job training and social work
The second phase of the project will be a building that will hold 30 units of permanent, low-income housing.
"We're also breaking ground in the programs being offered, in the model that's being delivered," said Ward 4 City Councilor Brian Palmucci. "The new facility will have almost half as many shelter beds. ... That's a new approach to reduce the amount of emergency shelter beds by reducing the need for those emergency beds."
The nearly $24 million new facility will be built using a combination of state and city money, as well as private donations. More than $4 million will come from state housing grants, $7 million will come from money appropriated in a 2018 affordable housing bill and the City of Quincy has put more than $1 million into the project from its affordable housing trust.
Father Bill's was recently given $2 million by the Yawkey Foundation to help pay for the new building, which will be called the Yawkey Housing Resource Center. The Quincy-based Arbella Insurance Foundation gave $300,000 toward the project.
"This is one piece of a bigger puzzle, but we are encouraged and happy to work alongside other organizations on housing-first projects," said Maureen Bleday, CEO and trustee of the Yawkey Foundation. "Change is hard for anybody. ... The fact that they can make this as seamless as possible is really reaching this population where they're at."
Father Bill's is still looking to raise between $7 million and $10 million in donations to completely pay for the project.
The City of Quincy donated money to Father Bill's as it continues to fight the construction of a bridge to Long Island, which was home to addiction services and homeless facilities that closed in 2014.
The Long Island Bridge became a campaign topic in the recent Boston mayoral election as candidates dealt with the flashpoint of a homelessness and addiction crisis in the area of Massachusetts Avenue and Melnea Cass Boulevard in Boston.
Quincy officials and Boston Mayor-elect Michelle Wu have argued for a ferry to the island instead of a bridge, but commissioned outside and internal reports from the City of Boston have called a ferry service not feasible. Quincy officials say the bridge would create traffic congestion in Squantum.
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This story has been updated to clarify the phases of the building project due to an editing error.
Joe Difazio can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jldifazio.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: Father Bill's breaks ground on new Quincy homeless shelter, apartments