Davis Cos., Suffolk U. Offer Buildings to House Homeless Amid Pandemic

March 30th, 2020 | by Catherine Carlock, Boston Business Journal

The Davis Cos. will provide a shuttered former acute-care hospital in Brighton, and Suffolk University is repurposing a downtown dormitory, in efforts to help the city of Boston battle the coronavirus pandemic among its homeless population.

According to a city press release on Sunday, Boston-based real estate firm The Davis Cos. will allow the city access to 1515 Commonwealth Ave., a shuttered former Kindred Care hospital in Brighton where the firm has proposed a 330-unit residential building. The former hospital will provide 70 beds “that will be ready to open within days,” the city said. The Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Health Care for the Homeless program will operate the facility.

“As the full magnitude of the COVID-19 crisis became clear, we knew we needed to help in some way,” said Stephen Davis, managing director of development for The Davis Cos., in a statement “Concerned that the crisis posed a significant challenge to the city’s hospital infrastructure, we began identifying assets we own that might be of service. This nearly 60,000 square foot former hospital facility was sitting idle as we prepared to redevelop the site and represented an opportunity to help. We are fortunate to live and work in a City where strong leadership enables quick action to protect this high-risk population during such an unprecedented time.”

Meanwhile, Suffolk’s Nathan R. Miller Residence Hall at 10 Somerset St. will provide 172 beds, “helping reduce congestion and increase social distancing in existing shelters in Boston.” Pine Street Inn and the Boston Public Health Commission will manage the facility.

“Mayor Walsh has been clear that the precautions and preparations the city, its institutions, and its residents take now will be critical to successfully responding to the crisis,” said Suffolk University President Marisa Kelly in a statement. “We commend him for his leadership, and we stand ready to help in any way. Boston is our home, and the University takes very seriously its responsibility to be a good citizen at a time when we are all being called upon to pitch in and help.”

Newton Pavilion, a former Boston Medical Center hospital building at 88 E. Newton St., will also be reopened to meet coronavirus-related needs for the region’s homeless population.

The city and Boston-based Suffolk Construction have also built a 38-bed isolation and quarantine facility adjacent to the 112 Southampton Shelter in Boston, which will augment the 17-bed Barbara McInnis House of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless.

“We must care for one another and never forget the individuals and families in our community who need us most, especially during these unprecedented times. We must also do everything we can to support the caregivers and healthcare professionals on the front lines battling the coronavirus every day,” said John Fish, chairman and CEO of Suffolk, in a statement. “We were honored and privileged to answer the call from the City of Boston by providing our support, sharing our resources and constructing sophisticated temporary healthcare facilities that allow healthcare professionals to treat and care for members of our homeless population with the dignity and respect they deserve.”