NABB Homelessness Task Force Event a Success

Special to Sun

It was standing room only at the Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay’s Homelessness Task Force event for “A Conversation with Dr. Jim O’Connell and Dr. Eileen Reilly” on June 5. at the Boston Public Library’s Rabb Hall.

HTF Co-Chair Kathleen Young moderated the event, which generated extraordinary interest from well over 300 residents from Boston and environs. The event was an important effort to increase the understanding of the small segment of the homeless called ‘Rough Sleepers,’ those who are unwilling to take avail of shelters and are so challenging to help.

​Gianna Gifford, Chief of Adult Library Services, introduced the event by overviewing the diverse social services at the Boston Public Library. Dr O’Connell, President of Boston Healthcare for the Homeless Program, and Dr Reilly, Chief Psychiatrist on their ’Street Team’, discussed the challenges and rewards of providing medical and psychiatric care to the homeless population who sleep outside in Boston.  

They explained the extraordinary abuses that this chronically homeless population has endured that has contributed to their difficulty assimilating. The very high incidence of severe mental illness also impedes their transition to being housed compared to the majority of short term homeless individuals who fill our shelters. The audience demonstrated great interest and compassion with their questions.

For more information on Neighborhood Association of the Back Bay’s Homelessness Task Force, visit

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