Caritas Communities Expresses Condolences to Family of Veteran Who Died

Caritas Communities Bedford Veterans Quarters is located in Building 5 at the Edith Nourse Rogers Memorial Veterans Hospital in Bedford

Caritas Communities, a nonprofit homelessness prevention organization that provides single-room housing for about 1,000 individuals who would otherwise be homeless throughout Greater Boston, today again expressed its sincere condolences to his family upon the death of Timothy White, a 62-year-old U.S. Army Veteran who was a resident of a Caritas facility on the Veterans Administration Medical Center campus in Bedford, MA.

“Caritas Communities is deeply saddened and offers our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. White,” said Karin Cassel, Executive Director of Caritas Communities. “We care deeply for our residents, many of whom suffer from the trauma of homelessness, and do our part to help them connect to the resources they need to succeed in permanent housing as this is core to our mission.”

Caritas Communities provides on-site staffing to refer and help residents connect to counseling, medical treatment, employment, and other services at the VA. Caritas Communities is committed to the health and safety of our residents and follows strict protocols when a resident is discovered missing.

On May 13, 2020, at about 1 p.m., Caritas notified VA officials in Bedford of a missing BVQ resident. Caritas notified the Bedford Police of the missing person later that afternoon. On the morning of May 14, a Caritas employee visited the VA Police office on campus and reported the person missing.

Caritas had been working with the VA and the Bedford Police to ascertain the whereabouts of this resident. On Friday, June 12, Mr. White’s body was found in an emergency-exit stairwell outside the space leased by Caritas. It is one of several stairwells that are outside the leased premises of Caritas Communities and are solely controlled by the VA.

Caritas Communities is cooperating fully with the investigation.

The Bedford Veterans Quarters is a Caritas Communities residential facility leased from the VA in one portion of one building on the VA campus in Bedford and provides single-room occupancy housing to formerly homeless veterans. Caritas does not provide Supportive Housing nor is it a nursing facility or continuing care facility or a program where residents are committed to Caritas’s care and oversight, nor does Caritas provide any medical or other sorts of treatment to its residents. Residents are free to come and go as they please and have no obligation to inform the staff of their whereabouts. They regularly go to work, grocery shopping, visiting family, and other normal activities. They also frequently participate in programs and use facilities available to them on the VA campus.

Since Mr. White’s body was discovered, by another resident of the Bedford Veterans Quarters facility who mistakenly entered the stairwell in June, there has been confusion and inaccurate information communicated in the media on this tragic incident.

One important element of this event has been in dispute because of a misunderstanding on the part of the VA. Initially, a VA statement said that the body was found on property we lease. That was incorrect, and Caritas issued a statement to that effect. In fact, Caritas was expressly forbidden to use those stairwells, which was communicated to Caritas by the VA repeatedly along with the possibility of fines or eviction for violating residents.

Caritas had a conversation on Wednesday, June 17, with senior officials of the VA in Washington. They explicitly acknowledged that their initial statement was incorrect and that the area where Mr. White’s body was found, in an emergency stairwell adjacent to the space that Caritas leases, is solely under their control. Caritas is grateful for the VA’s acknowledgment of this, as it puts an end to this misunderstanding.

Caritas has communicated this to the media, and in particular, the Boston Globe acknowledged this in its article in today’s edition. Unfortunately, although the VA clearly communicated this information to us, officials there have declined to communicate it directly to the media.

Here is the statement from the Caritas Executive Director that we provided to the Globe yesterday after its initial, online version of the article on Thursday contained some incorrect assertions.

“Caritas searched all areas to which we had access. Though the stairwell is adjacent to our space, it is not our property. The area of the stairwell in which our resident was found is not visible from our premises. We had no idea that the resident had entered the stairwell, which is strictly off-limits to our residents other than as an emergency exit. We promptly told the VA and the VA police, who oversee and control the Bedford VA property including the stairwell in which our resident was found, that the resident was missing. The VA asked us to call the Bedford Police and to submit a missing person report, which we did.”

About Caritas Communities

Caritas Communities works to prevent homelessness by providing very low-income individuals with permanent housing, support, a sense of community, and expanded opportunities. For more than 35 years, Caritas has helped fill the need for safe, secure housing in Greater Boston. Caritas has 33 buildings in 17 Greater Boston communities, housing more than 1,000 individuals annually. Caritas provides on-site support services, emergency rental assistance, veterans-specific housing and services, and on-site property management. Caritas enables working people on minimum wage, veterans experiencing post-service challenges, and low-income elderly and disabled citizens to live in a clean, safe home that they can afford. To learn more, please go to www.caritascommunities.org.


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