Belonging to Each Other (BTEO) is a coalition of volunteers from 9 Falmouth congregations and other community members, founded in late 2015 to address the problem of homelessness in our community. BTEO provides temporary housing, food, transportation and internet services at no charge for men and women experiencing homelessness in Falmouth, while helping clients identify more stable housing and/or necessary services. It is a high touch, high intensity model.
Who We Serve
Our population consists of individuals over 18 years of age in Falmouth who are experiencing homelessness. We will house our residents in rental houses during cold weather months. We can accommodate up to 12 homeless men and women at a time, from November through April. As clients transition out to more stable housing, other individuals who meet our eligibility criteria will cycle into available spots. Housing case management services are provided year-round to assist persons experiencing housing insecurity.
BTEO was founded in 2015 in response to an awareness of a growing number of people experiencing homelessness in Falmouth. As an organization we believe strongly that we should provide for the most vulnerable among us, allowing them to remain in their own community.
In the fall of 2015, seven faith-based institutions quickly mobilized and formulated a basic mission statement, which continues to describe our program: “To provide temporary housing and loving support to our Falmouth neighbors experiencing homelessness.” Within 90 days we had a plan in place. That winter we housed and fed 27 men and women experiencing homelessness (up to 8 at a time) in motel rooms for more than three months. The community responded generously with their time and their money. At the end of our first season, the majority of our clients had transitioned into more stable living arrangements.
On December 1, 2016, BTEO began its second year of operation. We partnered with the Housing Assistance Corporation (HAC) and Falmouth Human Services (FHS) to fund a part-time case manager for an expanded four-month winter program. We again rented motel rooms, but we also partnered with two landlords – the Falmouth Housing Corporation (FHC) and a “snowbird” couple – to rent two homes in Falmouth. These houses proved to be more cost-effective than motel rooms and also provided more dignified living arrangements.
From December 1, 2016, through March 31, 2017, BTEO provided housing, case management, friendship, food, transportation, and other critical services to 23 homeless men and women (up to 12 at a time).
In February 2017, we received notification from the IRS that our status as a charity was approved. Prior to this time, we had operated under the umbrella of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, which acted as our fiscal agent for purposes of donations.
In 2017-2018, 60 individuals experiencing homelessness were interviewed for our program and 36 of them were referred to other more appropriate resources (such as detox programs). The 24 men and women who entered BTEO were housed during the four months in two rental homes (up to 12 at a time). During that winter, 10 of the 24 became employed, 11 of the 24 were helped onto housing voucher lists, and 4 of the individuals actually received housing vouchers while they were in our program.
In 2018-2019, BTEO expanded to operate for five months, from November 16th through April 15th. We interviewed 58 individuals, 23 of whom were referred to other resources and 35 of whom entered BTEO.
In 2019-2020 we again operated for five months, interviewed 42 individuals experiencing homelessness, accepted 30 into BTEO. By April the majority of them had transitioned into more stable housing or an appropriate program.
In 2020-2021, the pandemic was full-blown in Massachusetts. BTEO was able to open two houses and operate while maintaining COVID protocols. This included using a swing motel bed so prospective residents could isolate and be tested prior to entry. We interviewed 64 people, and provided 1330 nights of housing to 18 people. We were able to place 5 more people into stable housing or programs directly, to avoid too much movement into and out of our houses. BTEO also began providing year-round housing case management to our alumni and to people referred to us by other agencies for help navigating a housing search during the pandemic. We also began providing meals in support of Duffy Health’s cold-weather emergency sheltering program in Falmouth for persons at risk from exposure.
Thus, during our first six seasons of operation, 157 individuals in Falmouth who were at risk of dying of exposure during the harsh winter months instead were assisted and cared for, and were given an important new start in life.
2021-2022 So Far
Our 2021-2022 season has highlighted growth of homelessness on Cape Cod and in Falmouth. With two months to go, we’re already interviewed more than 70 people, provided more than 1200 nights of housing, and direct-placing 3 people. Our volunteers have made and delivered more than 300 days of meals in support of Duffy Health’s cold-weather emergency sheltering program in Falmouth for persons at risk from exposure. Our collaborations with other Community organizations, including, but not limited to local congregations, housing agencies, the Falmouth Service Center and the Town’s Human Services Department is helping all of us protect our most vulnerable neighbors.