Formerly homeless individuals, community neighbors, public officials, key investment partners and affordable housing advocates gathered Saturday, April 30, on Walnut Avenue in Jamaica Plain to celebrate the grand opening of the Francis Grady Apartments, 30 studio units for people who have been homeless, and of the Stacy Kirkpatrick House, a 20-bed medical respite facility for homeless individuals.
“I’m on top of the world, literally, after everything I’ve been through, man!” said new resident Warren Magee. “One journey ends and another journey begins.” Mr. Magee, who is disabled, has suffered years of homelessness.
The long-awaited development has transformed a former nursing home into 30 apartments for men and women who have been homeless, with on-site support that includes counseling, assistance in daily-living skills, job-readiness training, home budgeting, case management and crisis intervention.
"In Boston, we believe that we must work together to lift all of our residents up, and the Francis Grady Apartments will give people the opportunity and resources they deserve," said Mayor Marty Walsh. "I am thankful for all of the partners who have made this announcement possible and look forward to the brighter futures it will provide."
Creating the Francis Grady Apartments and the Stacy Kirkpatrick House in one building represents an innovative approach to combining health care with housing for the homeless.
“A safe home is critical to the health and wellness of homeless men and women,” said Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (BHCHP) Chief Executive Officer Barry Bock.
BHCHP used the property as the Barbara McInnis House medical respite facility for 15 years before moving to a new site in the South End. In 2010, the nationally renowned nonprofit joined with the Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation (JPNDC) to pursue the building’s redevelopment for housing and health care.
The Francis Grady Apartments’ 30 fully furnished studio units are located on the second and third floors, where Pine Street Inn provides residents with on-site case management and other services. The Stacy Kirkpatrick House, scheduled to open in May, will be operated by BHCHP and provide health care, including 20 respite care beds, to medically vulnerable homeless adults.
The healthcare component is named in memory of Stacy Kirkpatrick, a long-time BHCHP staff member who passed away in March. “Stacy was a brilliant nurse practitioner—beloved by patients and staff,” said Bock. “She began her career with us 16 years ago in this building, so it’s fitting that it commemorates her and the spirit and passion she brought to her work.”
The residential project is named for Fran Grady, a social worker and lifelong activist for social justice. As a parishioner of the nearby St. Mary of the Angels, he was a frequent pastoral visitor, advocate for and friend of residents of BHCHP’s Barbara McInnis House when it was located at the Walnut Avenue site.
Key funding partners included UnitedHealthcare, which provided $5.1 million in equity through a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit partnership with Enterprise Community Investment. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts approved the use of tax credits. Several city and state affordable housing programs provided $5.3 million in capital funding. BHCHP invested an additional $3.5 million of private funding to develop the medical respite facility and common areas.
“Francis Grady Apartments is a model for new housing communities designed to help residents break the cycle of homelessness and poverty by connecting affordable homes with important support services,” said Bernadette Di Re, president of UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Massachusetts.
“UnitedHealthcare’s investment underscores our commitment to help people live healthier lives through innovative partnerships that make a difference for individuals and families.”
“We want to acknowledge and thank a large cast of generous supporters who literally made the difference between the death of this project and its survival,” said JPNDC Executive Director Richard Thal. “They include not only the officials and funders who share the goal of ending homelessness in Boston, but nearly a hundred neighbors who spoke out to welcome a project that will end homelessness for 30 men and women. They embody this community’s spirit.”