At our 12th Annual Spring Fundraising Event on May 20, 2015, MHSA will honor two individuals and one program that have all made outstanding contributions to ending homelessness. Today in our Spotlight on the Honorees series, we highlight Linda Wood-Boyle, President and CEO of HomeStart and MHSA Board Officer.
Linda Wood-Boyle has served as President and CEO of HomeStart in Boston for more than 15 years. In this capacity, she oversees multiple programs and a staff of more than 60, as well as administering a $9 million annual budget. During Rev. Wood-Boyle’s tenure the agency has more than quadrupled its capacity to serve homeless and at-risk-of-homelessness individuals and families. Under her leadership, HomeStart successfully places more than 500 families and individuals into permanent housing each year, with more than a 90% retention rate; prevents homelessness for more than 500 households each year; and started the first scattered-site Housing First Program in Boston.
Prior to HomeStart, Rev. Wood-Boyle served as the Executive Director of the Somerville Homeless Coalition. An ordained United Methodist minister, Rev. Wood-Boyle has more than 35 years of experience in nonprofit administration and development. She is recognized as a strong leader in the field with a deep commitment to ending homelessness. An accomplished public speaker, Rev. Wood-Boyle presents HomeStart’s model nationally. She serves on the Leadership Council for the City of Boston and is a MHSA Board Officer. Rev. Wood-Boyle also provides pro bono consulting services to several small nonprofits in the area of capacity building.
MHSA will honor Linda Wood-Boyle, along with Joseph V. Roller II and Bentley University’s Service-Learning Center, on May 20th at the Omni Parker House Hotel in Boston.
What motivates your work to end homelessness?
It is really quite simple: I feel strongly that access to safe, affordable housing is a basic human right. In light of that, we are called to take any measures to ensure that even the most disenfranchised and disabled among us have that access. It is not a pipe dream. For me, it is a very realistic and attainable goal.
What are the greatest challenges to expanding permanent supportive housing in Massachusetts, and how can we address those challenges?
There are several challenges, although not insurmountable. The first is the lack of adequate, affordable, accessible housing in Massachusetts, especially in Boston. Another challenge is educating the public about the cost effectiveness of permanent supportive housing as opposed to shelter. We need to convince funders – both public and private – to transition from spending their resources on shelter to instead investing in permanent supportive housing. There will always be a need for emergency shelter, but the model currently in place for both unaccompanied adults and families is ultimately unsustainable and, in some cases, vituperative.
What does this award mean to you?
I am honored to be chosen for this award, not for myself, but on behalf of HomeStart and the amazing work that is done there. The staff work tirelessly day in and day out and have tremendous success in both ending and preventing homelessness. HomeStart started as the "little engine that could" and has become a major force in the efforts to end this blight. I have been privileged to have served this wonderful agency for the past 15 years.
Tickets and sponsorships for Home for Good: Solutions Start Here are available now! Join us on May 20 as we celebrate this year’s honorees.