As Pine Street Inn President & Executive Director Lyndia Downie says, “One night in shelter is too many.” To help prevent individuals from entering the shelter system, Pine Street is the first organization in Boston to implement a Triage program, similar to emergency rooms. Our goal is to make shelter stays brief, rare and non-recurring whenever possible.
When a new guest arrives at a Pine Street shelter, the Triage team uses an initial resources assessment to calibrate the right level of support. This includes reviewing medical history, substance use challenges, and more.
This conversation with the individual helps Triage staff determine the best course of action. In many instances, family reunification is possible between a guest and family members, so minimal (if any) shelter time is necessary. In other cases, Triage is moving individuals out of homelessness in less than 30 days.
Of the guests we assess, 10% meet once with a Triage specialist and never have to stay in a shelter bed. From that group, less than 1% return to shelter.
Adam, in his early 20s, was kicked out of his house and felt that his parents didn’t want him anymore. He believed his only option was to stay in a shelter. During an assessment with our Triage Supervisor Joanne, Adam also admitted to wanting to try heroin. After just one meeting, Joanne was able to connect Adam with his parents and direct him to substance abuse resources. After learning about his interest in working, she also made an introduction to a work program targeted towards young adults. After one night at Pine Street, Adam’s never been back.