"Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and ALWAYS START WITH THE PERSON NEAREST YOU." - Mother Theresa
Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS) believes that all homeless people can turn their lives around, no matter what disabilities, health crises, or economic challenges they are facing.
The men, women, and children BOSS serves are at the bottom of the economic ladder—they are 100% homeless and very low income. Only 8% of people entering BOSS have any earned income, and a large number have zero income when they first come to us due to welfare time limits. Over 70% have one or more disability (physical, mental, developmental) that prohibits them working full-time, although most do want to work—for income, social connection, and to contribute to the community.
Since 1971, BOSS has built a network of innovative programs that help over 1,500 families and individuals each year work to overcome homelessness and rebuild their lives. Our services are designed along 4 tracks:
HOUSING: Emergency shelters, transitional houses, and permanent housing placements.
HEALTH: Crisis intervention, medications monitoring, drug/alcohol recovery, therapeutic activities and peer socialization, health care access, health education.
INCOME: Benefits advocacy, money management assistance, computer labs, job search assistance, temporary job programs.
SOCIAL JUSTICE: Leadership skill-building, education on social justice issues, advocacy campaigns, development of positive social support networks.
The vast majority of homeless people want to work ~ they want safe and decent housing ~ they want to take care of their families and contribute to their communities. Yet they cannot find housing that is affordable to them, they lack up-to-date job skills, and they are dealing with the physical and emotional effects of serious health issues and trauma resulting from life on the street, family abuse, active military service, past incarceration, or other crises.
People like Lowanna, who battled depression and homelessness for many years before entering BOSS and being supported to enroll in college and find affordable housing. Today Lowanna has an Associate of Arts degree and is getting her Masters… like Ernest, who spent ten years on and off the streets due to chronic homelessness, addiction, and incarceration before entering BOSS, where he was encouraged to take on leadership roles in BOSS housing. Ernest became House Manager in BOSS transitional housing and moved from there to full-time employment and his own housing – today Ernest gives back to the community by bringing free meals to homeless people in Berkeley and Richmond… like Sammie, who arrived in BOSS housing with serious behavioral, academic, and communication problems. After participating in BOSS’s innovative after-school program, the Children’s Learning Center, where he got involved in sports and received daily help with his homework, his grades improved, and his relationships with family members stabilized and strengthened.
Every person and family BOSS serves is unique, facing individual challenges, life experiences, and crises. BOSS believes in them all—and provides housing and services that helps them believe in themselves, and make these kinds of changes in their lives.
Donations help BOSS sustain these life-changing housing and service programs, as well as continually seek new and better solutions for homeless and poor people!
In the past year, BOSS accomplishments include:
INCREASING INCOMES: The recently launched Benefits and Entitlements Specialist Team connects with chronically homeless people on the streets to help them obtain Social Security income, and help them overcome the repeating cycle of hospitalization and street homelessness.
NEW HOUSING STRATEGY: This specialized team is designed to increase our success helping people move into permanent housing. They conduct specialized housing workshops across BOSS and advocate one-on-one with landlords.
SUPPORT FOR EX-OFFENDERS: BOSS was recently awarded a grant to provide employment services to formerly incarcerated individuals who are released to the streets in need of jobs and housing. This is a growing need—BOSS is positioned to help meet it.
Your donation will help us continue to innovate these and other exciting solutions to homelessness—thank you for your partnership and your contribution!