Down and Out – Homeless Women in Boston
Produced and reported by Gail Pellett
Production Company: The Women's Journal
Presented by: WBCN-FM, Boston

Produced in 1974, this documentary made visible a community that had remained invisible and surrounded by silence — homeless women, many of whom were alcoholics. The year before this documentary was made a new law passed in Massachusetts that determined alcoholism to be a disease, not a crime hence a little light was shed on this previously silent well of suffering.

Interviews with several homeless, alcoholic women provide insights into this quiet and lonely hell.  These are stories of abandonment, isolation, poverty, illness.  Social service worker, Ed Dougherty,  and Kip Tiernan, founder of a new shelter for homeless women alcoholics, Rosie’s, reveal the plight of homeless women vs men.  Their recovery is so much more difficult because they have usually never worked, so they have no skills to support themselves.   Either their children have grown up and moved out or their young children have been  removed by children’s services or a relative from the home, so they have hit bottom. Families and friends abandon them,  street life and drinking has led to illness, they may attempt suicide.   Woven throughout are songs that reflect this sorry state of affairs.

But there are signs of hope.  Rosie’s — a non-judgmental environment — creates a safe place for women to come and go, to seek comfort, meals, companionship and opportunity.  At this critical turning point of viewing alcoholism as a disease  social services agencies are becoming more aware of the lack of services to women alcoholics.

Rosie's Place, Boston

Breaking News

From Rosie's Place website today: "Welcome to Rosie’s Place. As the first sanctuary for homeless women in the U.S., we are committed to providing a safe and nurturing environment for every woman who comes to our door. We greet each woman with unconditional love, and do our best to help her take the next step on her journey to safety, to dignity, to opportunity."

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