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Boston Organization Helps Homeless Pregnant Women

Bridges to Moms was launched in 2015 and has helped close to 150 homeless pregnant women

A Boston organization is trying to help a very vulnerable part of the homeless population: pregnant women.

Something as simple as a bedroom for her daughter and one for her son may seem simple, but for Desiree Agnew, it's everything.

That's because not too long ago Agnew was pregnant and homeless.

Agnew is not alone. Research suggests the number of homeless families in the state of Massachusetts has risen 75 percent in the last ten years.

"To be safe with my family is one of the biggest blessings I could ask for," said Agnew.

She credits her newfound sense of safety to Bridges to Moms, a program run by the Boston based nonprofit, Healthcare Without Walls, in partnership with Brigham and Woman's Hospital.

Dr. Roseanna Means launched the program in 2015 after realizing how many new moms were leaving the hospital with no real place to go.

"They were couch surfing, doubles up in illegal situations, virtually homeless, some of them sleeping in their cars," Means said.

Since launching, they've now helped close to 150 homeless pregnant women. The organization connects the woman to medical resources, transportation to and from appointments, and even help to find a place to call home.

Amy Coe, a nurse practitioner with the program, says her work is never done. She has a client list of more than 40 patients and says 20 are currently pregnant.

"A lot of these women are more underground than ever because of either their documentation status or they’re fleeing domestic violence," she says.

Coe says the numbers are underrepresented.

"How do you count women who are sleeping in their cars at night with their children? There's no one doing that count," Coe said. "To face all that and not know where you are going to sleep at night or if you're going to have a home or if that home is going to be safe or clean." She says all that factors into the added stress brand new mothers have who are also recovering medically.

The group is now backing a proposed bill in the Commonwealth that would establish a Commission on Homeless Women. They would also like to see their program expanded to other area hospitals. Right now, it is only at Brigham and Women's Hospital. They believe the expansion will help them to reach more moms like Agnew.

"They strengthened me and there's not a lot of mothers out there getting a lot of strength," Agnew said.

More information on the Bridges to Moms program can found on their website.

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