Harvard Square Youth Homeless Shelter To Open in November

Donning hard hats, Sarah A. Rosenkrantz ’14 and Samuel G. Greenberg ’14 showed off the vacant space in the basement of First Parish Church that will soon house Y2Y Harvard Square, the nation’s first student-run shelter for homeless youth. {shortcode-f98a87f546775832db542ae8f22a0706f1b882a3}

Much demolition and construction work remained to be done, but Rosenkrantz and Greenberg said that Y2Y Harvard Square will be fully operational by November.

The anticipated November start date falls roughly a year and a half after Rosenkrantz and Greenberg first launched the youth shelter initiative. By November, the two co-directors plan not only to open the youth shelter but also hope to reach their $1.25 million capital fundraising goal.

Co-directors Greenberg and Rosenkrantz are working with Essex Newbury North contracting company, Skanska USA, and Studio G architects to manage construction and complete the design model. A total of 10 contractors and subcontractors have made significant donations, of both material and labor, to contribute to the renovation of the shelter.

According to the design model, the shelter will be equipped with a welcome desk, 25 beds, single-stall bathrooms, a kitchen, a medical room, and a common space.


“What we thought about prioritizing were safety, dignity, and affirmation and… we thought it was critical that we have a large, flexible multi-use space,” Greenberg said.

When the shelter is officially open to the public, guests will be given beds on a lottery based system similar to that of the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.

“There are only 12 beds for young adults in Greater Boston and many more people who need those beds, and we felt that making a judgment call on vulnerability or putting a hierarchy on need wasn’t something we wanted to do,” Rosenkrantz said.

Greenberg and Rosenkrantz are in the process of completing a 30-person staff in the next few weeks. Currently, staff positions are occupied by Harvard students, although the positions are open to all students in the Cambridge area.

Rosencrantz said that she and Greenberg are beginning to step back in order to give students working at the shelter leadership experience, in preparation for when the two co-directors leave.

“We want to make sure that things are running smoothly and to make sure that they feel ready and prepared to take ownership of the shelter,” Rosenkrantz said.

—Staff writer Sara A. Atske can be reached at

—Staff writer Annie Schugart can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @AnnieSchugart.


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