Harvard Square Summer Shelter (HSSS)

The Harvard Square Summer Shelter seeks to improve the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness by providing the resources needed to transition into permanent housing and employment.

Application Information:

The Harvard Square Summer Shelter is no longer accepting applications for beds for summer 2017.

To learn more about volunteering with the shelter, please email summerHSHS@pbha.org.


We are still looking for volunteersWe encourage anyone considering volunteering at HSSS to fill out the volunteer interest form. Those respondents will be contacted closer to the shelter opening to sign up for weekly, one-time, or substitute shifts.

Student Director Contact Information:



Staff Contact Information:

Matias Ramos



The Harvard Square Summer Shelter (HSSS) seeks to improve the lives of individuals experiencing homelessness by providing them with the full range of resources needed to transition into permanent housing and employment. Forming a collaborative partnership with the guests in a safe, comfortable, and supportive environment, the shelter works towards fulfilling short-term goals while working toward a transition into permanent housing. By bringing together individuals experiencing homelessness, students, and concerned members of the community, the shelter raises awareness of homelessness and builds a broad coalition against it.

The summer shelter is open for eight weeks each summer. Each client is provided with a permanent bed for the duration of the program; three meals a day; access to a case manager who helps them set and accomplish short- and long-term goals; access to job and housing search counselors; and a number of other amenities.

HSSS, formally St. James’s Summer Shelter, is widely known throughout the Boston area for its high staff-to-client ratio, its friendly and supportive atmosphere, and its success at helping clients accomplish their goals.

The 2017 season lasts from June 11 (evening) to August 3 (morning).

The shelter welcomes all volunteers and donations. Please email summerHSHS@pbha.org with any questions regarding the summer shelter.

History of the Harvard Square Summer Shelter

In 1990, two students established the St. James Summer Shelter, a transitional program that aided fifteen adults in securing a future beyond homelessness. Over a period of seven weeks, the shelter provided the guests with a guaranteed bed, clothing, three meals a day, job counseling, a phone number and mailing address, and assistance with their search for permanent housing.

Since then, the HSSS has undergone many important changes.

In 1996, the number of guests was reduced from fifteen to twelve so that the staff could devote more time to each shelter resident, and the length of the program was extended to eight weeks.

In 2010, the shelter moved to University Lutheran Church, the same space occupied by PBHA’s Harvard Square Homeless Shelter (HSHS) utilizes. The new space was larger, closer to Harvard, and more familiar to guests who had stayed at HSHS and staff who were HSHS volunteers.

In 2013, the Summer Shelter continued to operate in the space used by the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter and benefitted enormously from generous grants provided by HSHS. As the two shelters became increasingly overlapped, it became clear to members of both the HSHS and St. James community, as well as members of the wider PBHA and Cambridge communities, that a merger of the St. James and HSHS would be highly beneficial for both programs. In the fall of 2013, the HSHS Policy Committee voted unanimously to merge the two programs.

St. James was officially absorbed into HSHS for the 2014 shelter season, and began to operate as the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter Summer Program (HSSS), a subset of the larger HSHS program.

HSSS began accommodating fifteen guests again in 2017, made possible by support from the University Lutheran Church and the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter Corporation.

Learn More