Volunteers of America of Massachusetts (VOAMASS) celebrated the reopening of its Men’s Hello House at 686 Massachusetts Ave. in the South End on December 13 with a ribbon cutting ceremony. In attendance were state Sens. Cindy Friedman and John Keenan, state Reps. Jon Santiago and Steven Owens, among other officials and staff of VOAMASS.
“Located just blocks away from encampments used by people experiencing homelessness and substance use disorder in the area known as ‘Mass. and Cass,’ the Men’s Hello House is a 28-bed space designed to provide integrated care and supports to men with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorder,” according to a press release from VOAMSS.
Mindy Miller, Vice President of Integrated Services for VOAMASS, told the Sun that the rehab project took about 14 months to complete, and the facility had never had a full renovation since it opened in the late 1960s.
“It wasn’t ADA accessible,” Miller said, as there was no ground level and no elevator.
“That was really a priority for us at Volunteers of America—making sure it was accessible to everybody,” she said.
The facility is located in a 4800 square foot South End brownstone, and the rehab included two new beds and “several additional bathrooms,” according to VOAMASS, as well as new safety features, new furniture, and a new HVAC system. The facility has 28 beds total.
“The building’s design maximizes meeting spaces for clients, environmental efficiency and safety with the most updated technology,” the release states.
Miller said that clients for this program are required to be at least 18 years old, need to identify as male, and must be diagnosed with a substance use disorder. Many clients come from referral sources like CSS, DSS, and inpatient units, she said.
“Typically it’s voluntary; clients want to come in and do treatment,” Miller said.
Clients remain in the program for as long as they need to “stabilize” and “go back into the community so they don’t return to the facility or return to a facility like ours.”
At the Men’s Hello House, clients are offered services like recovery education, counseling, and case management.
“After a stay that affords participants the individual time needed to move through stage-based treatment, they reintegrate back into their families and communities as sober individuals who are employed and committed to an ongoing recovery process,” according to VOAMASS, which also offers further support to men who graduate from the program.
“As the opioid and behavioral health crises continue to worsen in communities across Massachusetts, including at Mass. and Cass in Boston, we need more programs like the Men’s Hello House available and ready,” Charles Gagnon, President and CEO of VOAMASS, said in a statement. “Through integrated, whole-person care, anchored by trauma-informed behavioral health supports, the Men’s Hello House helps participants to turn their lives around.”
Miller said that with all the attention on Mass and Cass recently, “it’s exciting to get these beds back online.” She said that while the building is ready to go, more staff needs to be hired and then an admit date will be set for clients. She said that will happen “very soon.”
Overall, she said VOAMASS is “excited to be able to open this up also while we’re doing the next phase of VOA,” including “integrated care, behavioral health and addiction services” to participants of the program.