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Mission, History & Values

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Our mission is to help homeless, poor, and disabled people achieve health and self-sufficiency, and to fight against the root causes of poverty and homelessness.

BOSS was created in 1971 to help individuals with severe and persistent mental illness who had become displaced because of public hospital closures. Programs and services expanded over the past five decades to include services for unhoused, disabled, and low-income individuals, families, and neighborhoods in Alameda County.

In 2013, executive leadership expanded the mission and began developing solutions for mass incarceration and violence in the community as unaddressed crises stemming from racially biased policies and systemic inequities.

Today, BOSS is recognized as a social justice leader with housing, reentry, violence prevention, along with innovative service delivery methodologies.

BOSS conducts all of our work, outreach, and community interactions in alignment with our core values:

SYSTEMIC CHANGE: Understanding the impact of policy violence on the people we serve, BOSS attacks inequity at the roots and removes systemic barriers to long-term success, stability, and resource access across sectors—education, employment, housing, health, criminal justice, land use, transportation, technology, and more.

INCLUSION: BOSS centers the voice of the community’s most impacted in service development and delivery, to create a sense of ownership, respect, safety and belonging, including hiring and training people with lived experience at all levels.

INNOVATION: BOSS uses both traditional and non-traditional empirical and evidence-based approaches to best serve our community, including culturally tailored programming and activities, always guided by successful outcomes and promising approaches, regardless of the way it’s “always been done”.

COLLABORATION: To maximize impact, BOSS seeks allies from throughout our community who share our vision and want to contribute to solutions—combining experiences, assets, information, and abilities to forge lasting solutions with buy-in from all stakeholders.

EMPOWERMENT: Always believing that those closest to the problem are closest to the solution, BOSS grounds our work in their strength and wisdom—empowering people to self-identify their needs and goals, lifting people out of despair with relentless compassion and support, and developing new leaders from impacted communities.

Theory of Change

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