Lend A Hand Society’s 2023 Spring Event featured speaker Beckie Tachick, RN, Street Team Manager at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program. Founded in 1985 by Jim O’Connell, MD, BHCHP ensures that individuals and families experiencing homelessness receive access to high quality health care. The program serves 11,000 patients per year at over 40 locations across Greater Boston, including individual and family shelters, domestic violence shelters, hospitals, and nursing homes. Their current patient capacity is 124 beds of medical respite care, 104 beds at their main site at the Barbara Mcinnis House, and a 20 bed step-down facility in Jamaica Plain.
Tachick has been a Case Manager for eight years, and works with unsheltered individuals who range in age from late twenties to mid-seventies. The term “unsheltered” encompasses those in our community sleeping outdoors, under bridges, in parks or alleyways, or on benches. Many of the patients she works with have been homeless for many years. She explains that homelessness can happen at any time of life and can occur for a multitude of reasons. The team actively works to encourage rough sleepers to visit the hospital clinic for more comprehensive services. At the clinic the staff also work with patients at-risk of homelessness and provide safety-net services to prevent eviction.
She and her team apply to LAH for grants on behalf of their patients to prevent homelessness and to help their patients obtain housing. BHCHP follows and supports patients who have recently moved into subsidized housing, visiting patients in their new homes to get a sense of what life is like in their new situation. Case managers like Tachick know well that securing housing leads to new needs as patients take on new responsibilities. The team helps patients navigate complex systems like addressing past debt from medical bills, rent and utility bills, paying realtor fees and obtaining furniture as they move forward to plan and begin budgeting for new housing maintenance expenses. The team assists individuals with this learning curve and serves as a support system to help patients in their new living situations.
Support from Lend A Hand Society helps Tachick and her team address immediate needs more promptly and without red tape or complicated requirements. Obtaining housing is extremely challenging even for people of means. BHCHP patients may not have the documents required by city housing agencies or landlords (e.g. a birth certificate or social security card and financial records) on hand for housing applications which creates additional barriers. Obtaining these documents can take weeks or months that a patient may not have, and coupled with the current affordable housing shortage, it adds additional pressures. LAH emergency assistance grants provide people with financial assistance using a simple, straightforward process.
Beckie Tachick thanked Lend A Hand Society on behalf of over 50 case managers at Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, for providing warm, loving support through emergency assistance grants and helping them meet patients where they are.
Click here to watch a video about this partnership. To learn more about BHCHP, read Tracy Kidder’s book Rough Sleepers, which highlights Jim O’Connell and Beckie Tachick’s meaningful work.