In 2005, Bill Miller was named Executive Director of the Friends of the Homeless, Inc., an agency that has since become the largest provider of shelter services for individuals in the Commonwealth outside the city of Boston. Under Bill's leadership, the agency has completed the design and construction of a unique "homeless resource center" that provides the most basic services of food and shelter but also medical and dental care and other supportive services designed to help break and end the cycle of homelessness. The facilities offer shelter 24 hours per day with the understanding that individuals who spend their days on the streets and nights in shelter have little chance of making a change for the better.
The agency's primary goal is to move individuals from shelter to housing, and it now houses more than 100 individuals in single room subsidized housing utilizing the "Housing First" approach that is aligned with the national industry trend. The campus also informally serves as a job training site with a number of full time employees who are former clients working in the kitchen, on maintenance staff, direct care and as part of the administration and board of directors. In addition, FOH serves as a work site for several individuals enrolled as Senior Aides, part of a federal back to work program for seniors. The entire campus was constructed and renovated as part of $16.5 million public/private partnership that has been widely lauded.
Bill Miller began his human service career in fields that are now considered related to homelessness including substance abuse treatment in the early 1980’s both with teens and adults. Concurrently, he opened a group home for foster children and was involved in a pilot program for kids who were “aging out” of foster care. He ended up adopting two of the children who are both now successful young adults. “These kids faced more challenges than I could have imagined before I ever met them. With some mentoring from me, but primarily with a great deal of effort from each of them, they have overcome the very things that drive many of the individuals I now see in shelter, early childhood trauma, lack of early educational support, and a mistrust of authority stemming from neglect and lack of basic nurturance."
"In the end, I think the greatest service we can provide to people who end up homeless is to show our belief in their basic worth as human beings, to let them know that they matter to someone. We can provide some simple tools but most of the work of ending their homelessness has to come from them.”