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Pine Street Inn Through the Years

For many, the journey out of homelessness begins with shelter, nourishment and compassion and leads to stability, permanent housing, a job and self-sufficiency.

Pine Street Inn began its journey four decades ago, offering approximately 200 men suffering from alcoholism a safe alternative to the streets of Boston.

Since then, we have expanded to serve nearly 2,000 homeless men and women each day, providing a comprehensive range of programs and services, including housing, outreach, shelter and job training. The ultimate goal for all of our programs is making permanent housing a real possibility for all.

Video History


Paul Sullivan, one of Pine Street's founders, became the first director and set the tone of respect that has always been fundamental to our program. Anyone seeking shelter is considered a 'guest' of Pine Street Inn, located in Chinatown on Pine Street.


A volunteer food group began preparing and bringing in meals each night. Today, dedicated volunteers help to prepare and serve 2,000 meals daily.


The deinstitutionalization of mentally ill men and women resulted in a radical change in the size and composition of Boston's homeless population. Suddenly there was an influx of many younger men and women who were homeless.


With its original facility on Pine Street no longer adequate for the growing number of homeless individuals, Pine Street Inn moved into the former Boston Fire Department Headquarters on Harrison Avenue in Boston's South End and began offering services for women in a separate unit with 50 emergency shelter beds.

Early 1980s

During the 1980s, a decline in federal rental subsidies, an astronomical rise in housing prices and the beginning of gentrification in many neighborhoods led to an affordable housing crisis in Boston. The city experienced a loss of approximately 20,000 lodging rooms in just over 10 years, and funding cuts also forced the closing of halfway houses for those transitioning out of the prison system. Pine Street was inundated.


Pine Street Inn became one of the first agencies in New England to develop affordable supportive housing with on-site support staff for homeless individuals when 26 homeless men and women moved into a permanent home in Brookline.


When a homeless man froze to death just two blocks from Pine Street Inn, Pine Street started a street outreach program, with a van that combed the streets of Boston during the night offering food, blankets, warm clothing and medical assistance. Later, a second van was added.


In a four-year period, eight new residences opened in Roxbury, Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and the South End to provide permanent housing for men and women.


A 10-week food services training program was established to teach individuals basic skills and to prepare them for employment in the food industry.


Recognizing the need for separate facilities for women, Pine Street purchased and renovated a former sewing machine factory adjacent to its main location to provide shelter and transitional services for 110 women. The Women's Inn is the largest shelter and resource for homeless women in New England.


To help individuals progress from emergency shelter to a permanent home, Pine Street created specialized transitional programs for elderly men and women, working men and women, pregnant women and individuals needing support following detoxification, with dedicated case management and counseling staff.

The first residence specifically for mentally ill tenants opened in Dorchester for 10 individuals, with 24-hour on-site staff providing comprehensive care and support services.


The Ninety Nine Restaurants, a longtime corporate partner, supported the creation of new kitchen facilities at Pine Street, leading to an expanded food services training program.


A new house in Dorchester was built from the ground up.

STRIVE (Support and Training Result in Valuable Employees), a national job readiness program, was specifically tailored for homeless individuals and opened at Pine Street.


Two new residences opened in Dorchester.


Three houses in Brookline and one in Jamaica Plain opened.

Pine Street Inn opened its first permanent housing residence for homeless families in Dorchester.


Pine Street Inn embarked on an intensive strategic planning process to assess the utilization of services and evaluate program effectiveness, leading to improved intake procedures and the implementation of several pilot programs targeted at those who are chronically homeless.


To address the severe lack of affordable housing in Boston, Pine Street Inn expanded partnerships with several community development corporations. A home on Geneva Avenue in Dorchester was Pine Street's first permanent housing residence for elders, a population whose incidence of homelessness and need for affordable housing is growing dramatically.


In collaboration with Trinity Church Boston, Pine Street created housing for 22 homeless men and women, bringing the total number of tenants in permanent housing to 400.


In April 2007, Pine Street launched an innovative Housing First program for chronically homeless individuals. Of the 151 individuals who have been placed in permanent housing through this program, 136 remain housed as of January 2011.



Pine Street Inn opened, assumed management of, or bought several new properties: opened Doe House in Boston's Mission Hill neighborhood providing permanent housing for 19 men and women; took over Tuttle House in Dorchester, home to 26 elderly men and women; purchased 38-42 Upton Street in the South End, with plans to renovate it into 30 enhanced single room occupancy units (SROs), each with its own kitchenette and bathroom.


Pine Street Inn marks several important milestones:
40 years of helping homeless men and women rebuild their lives,
25 years of permanent supportive housing, and
25 years of dedicated service by Lyndia Downie, President and Executive Director.


Pine Street Inn expands to more than 550 units of permanent housing throughout greater Boston, with a goal to add more permanent supportive housing while decreasing the number of men and women in its emergency shelter.


Pine Street opens two new permanent supportive houses: Sister Virginia Mulhern House in Jamaica Plain and 38-40 Upton Street in the South End. A transitional housing program for U.S. military veterans also opens in Dorchester.


Pine Street Inn merges with hopeFound, an organization dedicated to ending homelessness in Jamaica Plain. hopeFound operated Shattuck Shelter, which was opened in 1983 by Governor Michael Dukakis and offers year-round overnight emergency shelter and support for 120 homeless men and women each night. Through the merger, Pine Street also added  Employment Services and Stabilization to its programs. Together, the two organizations deliver a comprehensive and coordinated range of services to 1,600 homeless men and women each day.



Pine Street Inn tips the balance, offering more beds in permanent housing than in shelter.