Citywide Recovery Program Launches In Boston

By Paul Fuhr 10/03/17

The program is designed to support those in early recovery who are in need of housing, education and employment.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other city officials
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and other city officials at an event where the Pair initiative was announced

Boston is offering some much-needed financial support to people recovering from drug addiction, according to

A brand new program, the Personal Advancement for Individuals in Recovery (PAIR), will provide “direct aid in the form of rent, textbooks and other wraparound services to help individuals continue their path to recovery.” Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and others have put the unique initiative in motion, using grant dollars to help individuals in early recovery get back on their feet.

Designed to support low-income individuals, which includes many who are re-integrating into society from correctional facilities, the PAIR initiative is the first of its kind. At the moment, no other program in the country connects the recovery community to a comprehensive, practical way of re-entering the workforce and locating housing.

“It's hard to maintain your recovery if you don't have a roof over your head, a meaningful job, or opportunities for personal advancement," Mayor Walsh said.

Jared Owen, a communications coordinator for the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery, echoed the mayor’s sentiments to the Daily Free Press, noting that people who struggle with addiction also tend to struggle with criminal records, which makes it doubly difficult to secure employment: “With housing the way it is in Boston, it can be too expensive for people in recovery to really get a foothold. You can’t expect someone to stay sober if they have to sleep underneath a bridge,” he said. 

In order to get the $100,000 initiative off the ground, the city of Boston partnered with Warren and Doris Buffett’s Letters Foundation as well as the Gavin Foundation. Letters is a charitable organization “that provides humanitarian grants to people experiencing a crisis through no fault of their own and for whom no other options exist,” offering one-time grants to help people get their lives together.

Gavin is a non-profit organization located in South Boston, which works annually with 5,000 people from all over the country. Offering a comprehensive range of support services, including detox and sober housing, Gavin is dedicated to increasing “community awareness and acceptance regarding addiction and recovery.”

At-risk individuals can apply for a PAIR grant by writing a letter to Letters “describing their hardship,” the story said. They can also apply for grant money to pay for specific needs, including textbooks, monthly utilities, or training courses. A press release issued by the city further detailed the process, noting that Letters will work with Gavin’s referrals to “help ensure [program referrals] are responsibly meeting their individualized action plan.”

The PAIR program is also highly supported by the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services, which offers everything from program coordination to “customized city-led workshops, where participants can access additional resources from relevant City departments and community providers—especially departments and providers specializing in housing, workforce development, and education.”

Just as the PAIR program is the first of its kind, so too is the Mayor’s Office of Recovery Services. Opened in 2015, the Office works with local, state and federal departments to systemically crack down on addiction throughout Boston. However, while PAIR initiative is off to a promising start, city officials maintain that it’s very much a work in progress.

Nearly 40 people will initially benefit from the program, with an average of $2,500 targeted for each person—though those figures can certainly change.

Regardless, city officials remain as optimistic about the program as they are about the possibility of curbing addiction once and for all. “Together with our partners, and this new program, we will continue our work to end addiction in our city,” the mayor said.

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Paul Fuhr lives in Columbus, Ohio with his family and two cats, Vesper and Dr. No. He's written for AfterParty MagazineThe Literary Review and The Live Oak Review, among others. He's also the host of "Drop the Needle," a podcast about music and addiction recovery. More at You can also find Paul on Linkedin and Twitter.