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Bridge Over Troubled Waters (Bridge) is Boston's premier organization dedicated to transforming the lives of runaway, homeless, and high-risk youth through safe, supportive, and encouraging relationships and effective and innovative services that guide them toward self-sufficiency.
Bridge began in 1970 with a small but energetic group of staff and volunteers, who offered free and confidential services to homeless young people on the streets of Boston. Bridge’s free Mobile Medical Van and Street Outreach Program soon became national models. In 1982, Bridge became one of only nine service agencies in the nation to offer transitional living to its clients, providing support and housing for youth who were working on completing their education, building job skills, and saving money for the future. In 1996, Bridge developed the Transitional Day Program—a safe and clean setting where homeless young people can get a hot meal, take a shower, access lockers, do their laundry, and participate in life-skills workshops. In July 2011, Bridge opened Boston’s only emergency youth shelter, the West Street Residence, to offer safe, supportive short-term housing on an open-intake, low-barrier basis. Shortly after, in February 2012, Bridge expanded access to emergency shelter, opening the Warming Center during the coldest months of the year, to provide emergency overnight accommodations to youth as an alternative to the adult homeless shelters or sleeping on the streets.
Of the young people who seek help at Bridge, 100 percent live at the poverty level. They are likely to be struggling with any number of serious issues: court involvement, gang involvement, domestic violence, addiction, pregnancy, mental-health issues, school failure, significant learning disabilities, trauma histories, sexual exploitation, discrimination based on sexual orientation, or aging out of foster care. Bridge offers a safe and supportive environment in which these troubled youth can find out who they are and where they want to be. Then we help them get there.