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October 30, 2020
Father Bill’s & MainSpring Gets City Property for $1/Year
Father Bills & MainSpring

September 27, 2020 — Father Bill’s & MainSpring, a Brockton-based provider of emergency shelter and housing services in southern Massachusetts, recently won the right to lease a city-owned property in Quincy on which it will build a shelter and a homelessness prevention center at an affordable price: $1 a year for the next 99 years.

The Quincy city council earlier this month approved a 99-year lease agreement between the city and Father Bill’s & MainSpring (FBMS) that gives the nonprofit control over a newly-purchased lot at 39 Broad St. The city plans to tear down the current FBMS homeless shelter to make way for a new police station, according to The Patriot Ledger.

FBMS plans to use the land to create a Housing Resource Center consisting of two buildings, one that will be a day center and emergency shelter; the other will provide 25-30 efficiency apartments, reflecting a change in the organization’s current program offering, and would have rules for tenants similar to those of public housing.

The project is reportedly expected to cost $20 million.

John Yazwinski, president and CEO of FBMS, said focus would be on keeping people in their own homes, The Boston Globe reported, noting, “It’s much more cost effective, and humane, to get at [the problem] before people become homeless.”

Yazwinski said the long lease allowed his agency to apply for state funds for the new project, according to The Globe, which added that if approved, construction could begin in a year with “best-case scenario, two to two and a half years to occupancy.” Private fund-raising also would help pay for the project.

“We took a crisis and looked at it as an opportunity,” Yazwinski was quoted in The Globe. “We are really thankful to the city of Quincy, and the mayor, for believing in this model and making a long-term commitment to our most vulnerable neighbors, knowing that this is about not just managing homelessness but ending it.”

Yazwinski said a temporary shelter will need to be outfitted on the 39 Broad St. parcel once the shelter moves out of its current building, but before the new building goes up, The Ledger reported.

FBMS said that in fiscal 2019, it provided emergency shelter beds to an average of 125 people per night. The Housing Resource Center will include 75 framed shelter beds with the ability to accommodate overflow needs.

FBMS, founded in the early 1980s, helps nearly 7,000 people annually who find themselves homeless, or at risk of homelessness, achieve more self-sufficiency through a range of services including homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, employment programs, and permanent supportive housing.

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