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Housing, Health, Hunger & Help: Resources for Library Staff

Information on shelters, food, medical and legal assistance for the homeless and housing insecure in the Greater Boston area.

Librarian's Guide to Homelessness

Efforts and Resources at the Boston Public Library


Below are patron scenarios that may require informational assistance to supportive or emergency services. This is by no means an authoritative instruction guide, but is meant to provide library staff with useful suggestions to phone numbers or resources. As always, if you suspect someone is experiencing an emergency, call 911 immediately.

If a patron requests housing assistance, is unsheltered, or at risk of homelessness: 

1. Refer them to the Department of Neighborhood Development's Emergency Shelter list.

2. Provide them with the Housing, Health and Recovery Resource Pocket Guide or refer them to resources listed on this LibGuide

3. Call the Mayor's Hotline at 3-1-1

4. Contact Pine Street Outreach Team, 24hr/day @ 866.910.7463 (daytime, 5am-9pm) or 617.633.0170 (nightime, 9pm-5am) 

5. Alert them to Social Services Office Hours at the Central Library every Thursday, 9:30-11:30am. Harvard University's Legal Services Center provides legal support and referrals on the 1st Thursday of each month and may be of assistance with tenant rights, eviction, and housing inquiries. 

6. E-mail or call the BPL's Outreach Navigator


If a patron requests domestic violence resources:

1. Provide them with the SafeLink Hotline phone number, 877.785.2020 (toll-free) or  877.521.2601 (TTY), for information, support, and resources

2. Direct them to statewide DV listings on

3. Connect them to the Boston-based organization, Casa Myrna, and help them navigate its listing of supportive services

4. E-mail or call the BPL's Outreach Navigator

5. Review resources included on BPL's Libguide, Addiction Recovery Resources in Boston and Massachusetts. 


If a patron or staff member requests harm reduction services, assistance, or referral:

1. Connect them with the Massachusetts Substance Use Helpline 800.327.5050

2. Provide phone numbers to Victory Programs Mobile Prevention Team

3. Refer them weekly Social Services Office Hours at the Central Library, Thursdays, 9:30-11:30am, Mezzanine. Victory Programs attends on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month.


If a patron requests employment assistance:

1. Refer them to the following BPL Libguides: Job Seekers' GuideInternship Seekers' Guide, and Reentry Resources for Returning Citizens.

2. Help them navigate resources and workshops available through the Kirstein Business Library, such as resume review workshops and workforce development events. 

3. Print out the Job Training & Career Center list created by staff at Rosie's Place

Professional Resources