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Boston Medical Center, the City of Boston, and Commonwealth of Massachusetts partnered in 2022 to offer low-barrier transitional housing to encampment residents and provide co-located clinical stabilization services for community members with substance use disorders (SUDs) experiencing homelessness.
During the 1st year of operation, low-barrier transitional housing plus clinical stabilization care was a feasible and acceptable model for former encampment residents, 49% of whom engaged with SUD treatment, and 25% of whom transitioned to permanent housing.
To meet the needs of some of the people who had been living in encampments, BMC established in a former hotel: 60 beds of transitional housing, not contingent upon sobriety; and a low-barrier SUD-focused clinic for both housing residents and community members, offering walk-in urgent care, SUD medications, and infection screening/prevention; and a 24/7 short-stay stabilization unit to manage over-intoxication, withdrawal, and complications of substance use (e.g., abscesses, HIV risk, psychosis). A secure medication-dispensing cabinet allows methadone administration for withdrawal management. Housing program key metrics include retention in housing, transition to permanent housing, and engagement in SUD treatment and case management. Clinical program key metrics include patient volume, and rates of initiation of medication for opioid use disorder.