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:




RFP for Springfield’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program available

The City of Springfield Office of Housing has released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program for the operating year July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

The RFP is available for pick up at the Office of Housing, 1600 E. Columbus Ave., Springfield, MA, Monday through Friday, 8:30 am -4 pm. You can request an electronic copy by emailing a request to Gerry McCafferty. Proposals are due back to the Office of Housing no later than noon on March 1, 2017.

From the Zero 2016 national team

Hey friends,

Heads up: This email offers a chance to win free stuff! Keep reading 😉

CES is hard work, and you need an easy way to know how you’re doing. That’s why Zero: 2016 communities, federal partners, and technical assistance providers helped inform the development of our CES Scorecard. We also worked hard to align the scorecard with the priorities laid out in HUD policy briefs.

The scorecard covers system components for both chronically homeless individuals and veterans. That’s a tall order! But remember, the score provided by this tool is not a judgment— it’s a baseline to help you target and measure improvements.

Most of you are still in the early stages of developing a comprehensive system, but you may have made a lot of progress on one population or another. Please celebrate that! YOU ARE AWESOME!

In fact, we’re entering every community who has completed the scorecard by December 15th into a drawing to win one of five prizes:

  1. One registration for the 2017 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in DC
  2. One registration for CSH’s 2017 Housing Summit
  3. One registration for an OrgCode Learning Clinic of your choosing
  4. An inspiring visit from our own Linda Kaufman to your community
  5. A CES Action Camp in your community led by the Zero team

Has my community taken the CES Scorecard? Check here

Who should complete the CES Scorecard and how long will it take? The group of people within the CoC leading Coordinated Entry efforts can complete the scorecard together in about 30 minutes to an hour.

How will my community’s CES Scorecard be used? The sole purpose of the scorecard is improvement. Once you complete the scorecard, your Performance Management Tracker will show you your community’s specific “Areas for Improvement” and “Areas of Awesomeness.”

We’ve taken the CES Scorecard, what next?

  1. Celebrate and appreciate your areas of awesomeness as well as the people who helped create them.
  2. Identify your areas for improvement, set short term improvement goals with your coordinated entry team.
  3. Work with your collaborative lead and/or your coach for additional support, and don’t forget to retake the scorecard whenever you make progress to re-establish your baseline.

Building better systems is hard, but by leaning into the data, we can all get there together.




Homelink Demonstration

Come learn about Homelink, our data-sharing system for collaborating to provide housing and services to chronically homeless individuals. We’ll have the system live for demonstration, and talk about how community partners can use it to coordinate services.

Date: Friday, Nov. 4, 2016

Time: 9:30 – 10:30 am

Location: Springfield Municipal Operations Center, 70 Tapley St., Springfield

Homelink is our community’s shared database of chronically homeless individuals in Hampden County. We are able to use this database to share information by a group of homeless service providers because individuals sign a release of information form allowing the named organizations to share information.

Agencies that are not listed on the release of information cannot access full information, but they can still participate in a more limited way. Referring agencies can input new individuals, and can check to see if a particular person is on the list. If someone is on the list, the system will show name and contact information for the primary caseworker in the community working with the individual.

Maintaining Chronic Status while receiving Rapid Rehousing

We’ve talked about this in REACH meetings, and I have just had this question come up, which made me go look for the HUD guidance.

In case you ever need it, here is the HUD Frequently Asked Question that makes clear that a person who is chronically homeless maintains the chronic status during the time they are receiving rapid rehousing assistance:

Is an individual or family that is receiving Rapid Re-Housing Assistance considered chronically homeless for purposes of remaining eligible for permanent housing placements dedicated to serving the chronically homeless?

Yes. Program participants that are receiving Rapid Re-Housing Assistance through programs such as the Emergency Solutions Grants (ESG) Program, the Continuum of Care (CoC) Program, the Supportive Services for Veterans Families (SSVF) Program, or the Veterans Homelessness Prevention Demonstration Program (VHPD) maintain their chronically homeless status for the purpose of eligibility for other permanent housing programs dedicated to serving the chronically homeless, such as HUD-VASH and CoC-funded permanent supportive housing (so long as they meet any other additional eligibility criteria for these programs). Program participants maintain their chronically homeless status during the time period that they are receiving the rapid re-housing assistance. Rapid re-housing is a model for helping homeless individuals and families obtain and maintain permanent housing, and it can be appropriate to use as a bridge to other permanent housing programs.

It is important to note that although the program participants in rapid re-housing are considered chronically homeless for purposes of eligibility for other programs, the housing itself is still considered permanent housing; therefore, these program participants are not considered chronically homeless (or homeless) for counting purposes, and must not be included in the CoC’s sheltered point-in-time count.

Here’s where to find this helpful FAQ: