Study on the Rapid Re-Housing of MA Families Experiencing Homelessness
April 13, 2012
Michelle von Vogler
The Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) and the Center for Social Policy (CSP) at UMass Boston have just released a new study on the state's homeless families.
The study, titled "Rapid Re-housing of Families Experiencing Homelessness in Massachusetts: Maintaining Housing Stability," focuses on the experiences of 486 Massachusetts families living in shelters or motels who received rapid re-housing assistance from six agencies covering four sections of the state. The re-housing program was funded as part of the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program (HPRP), made possible by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The authors of the study , UMass Boston Senior Research Fellows Tim H. Davis and Terry Saunders Lane, looked at the housing and economic stability of these families after 12 to 18 months of program participation, and made conclusions regarding outcomes, as well as recommendations going forward. Of the 486 families participating in the study, 81% remained in a stable housing situation, and therefore out of the shelter system. Due to growing disparity between income and rent prices, the large majority of these families (77%) continue to receive either a short- or long-term rental subsidy in order to afford market rent. Many of the study’s conclusions are intrinsically tied to this widening gap between income and what is considered market rent in Massachusetts.
“The report points out the need to fix the policy hurdles that families face when they move out of homelessness. That is, our housing, work and income support policies need to work together in ways that benefit these families for both the short and long term.” said Donna Haig Friedman, director of the Center for Social Policy. “Anything less is a necessary but short-term Band-Aid.”
A few of the study’s findings include the continued need for housing subsidies for families, a longer period of time given for subsidies, the importance of housing services such as negotiations with landlords during the lease-up period and to address tenancy problems, as well as accompanying stabilization services (education and workforce and asset development, etc.). A broader conclusion from the study underscored the urgency for the state to create additional affordable housing opportunities.
“This study confirms that with assistance and support, families can obtain and maintain housing,” said Chris Norris, executive director of the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership. “Investing in families pays dividends in many ways, but like most investments, it takes time and persistence to obtain high quality results. It does not happen overnight.”
If you would like to read the full report, visit http://csp.umb.edu and click the publications link on the home page, then the reports link.
MBHP is the state’s largest regional provider of rental housing voucher assistance. We serve homeless, elderly, disabled, and low- and moderate-income individuals and families. Our region spans Boston and 29 surrounding communities: Arlington, Bedford, Belmont, Braintree, Brookline, Burlington, Cambridge, Chelsea, Everett, Lexington, Lynn, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Milton, Newton, North Reading, Quincy, Reading, Revere, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wilmington, Winchester, Winthrop and Woburn.
Our mission is to ensure that the region’s low- and moderate-income individuals and families have choice and mobility in finding and retaining decent affordable housing; all of our programs and initiatives are designed to encourage housing stability, increase economic self-sufficiency, and enhance quality of the lives of those we serve. To achieve our mission and to promote efficient service delivery, we work collaboratively with a broad array of service providers and neighborhood-based organizations.
We believe that everyone deserves a place to call home.
The Center for Social Policy (CSP) is part of the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, a public research university with an urban mission. Through its Reshaping Poverty Policy Agenda, the CSP provides expertise on policies and practices that reduce social and economic inequalities through active engagement with policymakers, researchers, service providers, and those communities most directly affected by these policies.
CSP engages in critical analysis of the structural causes for low wages, barriers to housing affordability, the disparate distribution of resources and their impacts on families, communities and society as a whole. Our inclusive, people-centered research methodologies generate solid evidence for reshaping policies by producing and advancing viable policy options that address the root causes of economic hardship and social exclusion.