How Can I Find a Shelter?
There are many places that can help you get into a shelter. The Multi Service Center will search for a place for you, as will staff at Rosie’s. You can ask staff at Drop In Centers, staff at clinics, churches, and probation officers. Here is a list of some shelters. Unless noted, all provide dinner. All small shelters are sober shelters. Clients of DMH might be eligible for DMH Shelters.
St. Patrick’s (20 shelter beds and 10 transitional spaces)
270 Washington St., Somerville
To get a bed there arrive at the shelter by 3PM. Take Bus 91 from Central Square or Bus 86 from Harvard Square. If there are too many women there is a lottery for beds. Those who do not get a bed will be driven to Central Square in Cambridge.
“I’ve been all over—this is the cleanest, safest, friendliest.” “Women here are trying to get on with their lives.” “I feel safe here. The people are decent.” “Women at this shelter lean on each other.” “Possessions are thrown out and women get barred if they try to get them from the dumpster. Medications have been thrown out. Keep them with you.” “It is restrictive, like being in prison, what the staff says goes.”
Safe Haven (7 beds for women)
15 Newbury St., Boston
Can stay up to 2 years.
Heading Home (6 women)
109 School St., Cambridge
Need to have a referral advocate call Shelter Inc at exactly 10 AM, and you need to be with them. A worker at Multi Service Center will call for you if you go there before 10 AM. This often takes many tries as there are only a few beds for women.
“It’s very hard to get into, though.”
Santa Maria (10 women)
11 Waltham St., Boston
Call at 7AM to see if beds are available. First time guests need to have an advocate call to refer them. May stay 10 consecutive nights, can return after 30 days away. Opens at 7pm and does not provide dinner. Women can eat at Pine Street or Rosie’s first. Rosie’s provides a van to Santa Maria after the meal.
Rosie’s Place (20 women)
889 Harrison Ave., Boston
Go there between 7:30-8am Monday–Friday, 10am Sat., Sun for lottery for a bed. Limited stay of 21 days. Need to stay out two weeks before returning.
Queen of Peace (7 women)
401 Quincy St., Dorchester
Call 8-9AM or 12-1PM to see if beds are available. Women can stay for three weeks. From Fields Corner take bus #17 to Bowdoin and Quincy St.
Further Away or Seasonal Shelters
Harvard Square Shelter at the University Lutheran Church, Cambridge
617-547-2841 or 855-367-2353
Call at 7:30 AM to reserve a bed. Call at 9:30 PM for bed for 1 night.
Shelter open November 15th to April 15th. Run by Harvard students.
“They try to help you. It’s run by students, so in a way it’s frustrating, they’re younger, you know more than them about life. But the shelter is clean, safe, you can do your laundry, they’ll cook for you—it’s a good place to lay your head down.”
College Avenue Shelter (4 women, 12 men)
14 Chapel St., Somerville
One block from Davis Square Red line T stop. Shelter is two blocks from the T, they will give you directions. Call anytime to see if bed is available, leave a message and a phone number where you can be reached. You can get a bed on weekends too. Call at least one time a week, every time you call you get a check mark and this interest gives you some priority.
Bristol Lodge (12 women)
205 Bacon St., Waltham
Call in the morning. An intake interview will be done at the men’s shelter, 27 Lexington St., Waltham. You can stay 3 or more months. Get the 70 or 70A bus at Green & Magazine St. to Waltham.
Lynn Emergency Shelter (10 women)
You can stay 1 month or more. Call to see if there is a bed and to get directions.
CASPAR Albany Street Shelter (9 women)
240 Albany St., Cambridge.
This is a shelter for active substance users from Somerville and Cambridge. However, they will allow anyone to stay 1 night.
“It can be a mess—but it’s a place to go when you’re drunk.” “It’s the best wet shelter.”
Pine Street (70 women)
363 Albany St., Boston
Go before 3:15 PM to put your name in the lottery. Names of those getting a bed are called at 3:30 PM.
“Upstairs is not bad.”
Woods Mullen also called Intake (60 women)
(Boston Medical Center)
794 Mass Ave Rear, Boston
In cold weather months you can go anytime to see if bed is available. The shelter is open 24 hours in cold weather. In Spring you need to be there by 3pm to get a bed on first come basis.
“The shelter isn’t nice but the staff is good.”
Shattuck Shelter (185 total beds/24 for women)
170 Morton St., Jamaica Plain
Be there at 6pm for lottery. If they do not have space they will help find another shelter.
“There are some brilliant women in the shelters…there’s a different story for everyone.”
“Some people are volatile.”
“It’s hard to put so many women together.”
“Stay out of the mix, out of the drama. Don’t take things too personally. After a while, you see who to steer clear of, who’s not going anywhere.”
“I thank God that there is a shelter. I could be on the street.”
“The staff have no training and often flip out. I want to tell them that yelling is not OK.”
“Staff are underpaid and have their own issues.”
“Staff might pick power struggle fights."
“Staff can bar you arbitrarily. Know what the resources are if you get barred and call First Step."
What if I Don’t Get in a Shelter or I Get the X?
Some shelters hold lotteries if they don’t have enough beds. If you don’t get a shelter bed and it is after hours in Cambridge you can call the First Step Van 617-592-6895. They will come as soon as possible and transport you to a shelter. Some women have also suggested South Station as a safe place that will usually allow a woman to remain overnight. Hospital Emergency Rooms might also provide a one time place to stay safe.
“I pulled the X, I panicked.”
“Who would take an X for you? I would do it in a heartbeat if I could.”
“If all other options are impossible, try a police station.”
“To stay safe during the day, I hide in a gentrified neighborhood.”
“Safety matters—on the streets, you can get sexually abused…try to stay in the shelters.”