Boston: Mayor Walsh announces good neighbors program fulfills more than 4,500 requests

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the Good Neighbors program, a partnership with Nesterly that connects older, at-risk individuals with volunteers to help with basic needs, has fulfilled more than 4,500 requests for food delivery and friendly check-ins since its creation at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Food deliveries and check-ins continue to serve residents who are at highest risk for severe illness from COVID-19 and homebound.

"We have seen the best of Boston with residents looking for ways to volunteer and support those in need," said Mayor Walsh. "I am proud that in the few months since this platform launched, nearly 1,000 Bostonians have helped our older residents get groceries, medication, or just a friendly phone call check-in. I want to thank everyone who is volunteering to help others during these trying times."

In April, Mayor Walsh joined the Age Strong Commission, the Housing iLab, and Nesterly, to launch Good Neighbors. To date, the new program has fulfilled more than 4,500 delivery and social support requests,older Bostonians, or those housebound.  Requests have been fulfilled in every Boston neighborhood by 980 volunteers.

"We've seen the power of community engagement as evidenced by the thousands of critical requests completed through Good Neighbors," said Noelle Marcus, founder of Nesterly. "We're incredibly thankful for the commitment and generosity of our volunteers."

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"Every day, we hear from older Bostonians in need of assistance," said Age Strong Commissioner Emily Shea. "Whether it's by delivering groceries or making meaningful check-in calls, the Good Neighbors program and their team of volunteers has made a difference in the lives of our older residents."

The program will continue to serve Boston residents in need. An older Bostonian, or someone on their behalf, can submit a request, either by phone at (877) 958-8785, online, or email, for delivery of groceries or a prepared meal, a wellness check-in call, or written correspondence. All volunteers go through a background check and receive guidance regarding personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety protocols while completing deliveries.

"The recipient of the food order did not speak English, so I had to communicate with them in Spanish," said volunteer Antonio Xu Liu.  "It reminded me of all the people in my life who helped my family and I when we first moved to the United States. It felt really good to be able to give back to a community that I myself represent: immigrant and of Hispanic background."

"I couldn't believe that a stranger was going to come and do for me what my loved ones and friends couldn't do, and so diligently, carefully and respectfully," said Jannie Dorsey, a client of the Good Neighbors services and resident of Hyde Park.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city's Housing Innovation Lab, a department dedicated to finding innovative solutions to housing challenges in Boston, developed a pilot program with Nesterly for an intergenerational homeshare program. In 2017, the City of Boston and Nesterly launched the pilot that matched households with a spare bedroom to students who were seeking an affordable place to stay during their studies, as well as an opportunity to engage with the local community. The program is aimed to encourage age-friendly development along with alternative housing options by connecting older homeowners with spare rooms with people who need to rent a room.

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ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT (DND)

The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing the homeless, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant's rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.

ABOUT THE AGE STRONG COMMISSION

The Age Strong Commission works towards making Boston a city that fully embraces aging. Our mission is to enhance the lives of people 55+ with meaningful programs, resources, and connections so we can live and age strong together in Boston. For more than 50 years, we have served constituents as a City department, Council on Aging, and Area Agency on Aging. In 2017, the Commission launched its Age-Friendly Action Plan, which is the City's blueprint to make Boston the best city to live and age in. Learn more boston.gov/age-strong.

ABOUT NESTERLY

Nesterly is a social enterprise whose mission is to build intergenerational connections while increasing access to affordable housing. It leverages technology to make it safe and easy for households to share an extra room with a young person for over a month. In a twist that's unique to Nesterly, housemates can exchange basic help like grocery shopping, dog walking, and tech support for lower rent. Nesterly has won over a dozen awards and has been featured in The New York Times, The Economist, Fast Company, The Atlantic, Forbes, and NPR's Marketplace.stats

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