New Massachusetts Report: The Growing Challenge of Family Homelessness

The Boston Foundation has released its report analyzing family homelessness in Massachusetts FY20018-FY2016.

Key findings from the report:

  • Since FY2008, Massachusetts has experienced one of the largest increases in family homelessness in the country.
  • Recent data suggest that the number of new entrants to the system as well as returns to homelessness may be declining.
  • Length of stay in shelter, however, continues to increase, with recent estimates averaging nearly a year state-wide and longer in Boston.
  • Families struggling the most in both exiting shelter and staying outside the system tend to be larger in size and headed by a female who is African American and/or Hispanic.
  • About half of families in shelter also receive other homeless and housing assistance, including RAFT, HomeBASE, and other assistance.

Recommendations, from the Executive Summary:

Findings suggest that focusing additional resources on larger families and those headed by younger females of color and Hispanic origin may be instrumental in helping them leave shelter earlier and avoid returning. Although these families appear to be a priority for HomeBASE assistance, it is not clear when they are offered the assistance. Targeting assistance to families earlier in shelter stays may help to decrease time spent in shelter. Areas to emphasize in order to help families leave shelter more quickly and with a greater chance of stability might include: 1. understanding the resources a family has and how they might be built upon (such as helping families save money while in shelter); 2. assessing job skills and how a family might benefit from job training; and 3. offering them more intensive housing location assistance.

The full report is available at:




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