ending homelessness with family aid

A Year of Uniting – Ending Homelessness

This week in a community meeting with school officials, we heard of a family of five renting a single room; it is what they can afford as they balance the high cost of child care, low wages, and a tightening housing market. They are not alone — for too many families, safe, stable housing is out of reach.  Creating the diversity of affordable housing we need is the challenge of our time. As we look back on 2019, we’re proud of the public and private partners who spent each day fighting to help individuals and families avoid homelessness and provide an equitable education to homeless children. 

United Way brings together over 80 nonprofit partners who know their local neighborhoods, cities, and towns. They identify and support families to find the housing they need.  With your support, our community partners prevented 10,200 families from becoming homeless last year, avoiding costly and lengthy shelter stays and minimizing disruption in school for their children. Here are five more ways United Way continued making progress for homeless individuals and families in 2019.

1. We leveraged private donations to help increase the supply of affordable housing

The Community Investment Tax Credit provides a 50% tax credit for donations supporting the work of community development corporations (CDCs).  This tax credit is generating significant resources for more affordable housing units. Last year, funds raised helped CDCs to build or preserve 1,535 homes and assisted 56,000 families with housing needs. There’s still time to give to this important program in 2019!

2. We exceeded the goals set by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in our efforts to house chronically homeless individuals

In partnership with the Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance, we exceeded our five-year Pay for Success goal to provide permanent supportive housing to 800 individuals, placing 926 chronically homeless people in safe, stable housing, and saving millions of dollars in shelter and emergency medical costs.

3. We expanded an innovative eviction prevention program to the South Shore

The Renew Collaborative is preventing homelessness by providing an alternative to eviction for non-payment of rent.  United Way and HomeStart worked to recruit Combined Jewish Philanthropies, Bank of America and Father Bill’s and MainSpring to combine resources and expand this model to the South Shore, where, according to the Eviction Lab, there were over 2,300 eviction filings for non-payment of rent in 2016.  Through this new partnership, we’re using resources otherwise spent on eviction to instead provide short-term, intensive case management to stabilize families and keep them in their homes.

4. We deepened our partnerships with public school districts in Lynn and Boston to identify and support homelessNESS IN students

In Lynn, more than 1,200 of the 17,000 enrolled public school students experience homelessness. Our Project RISE partnership creates intentional, effective collaboration between the Family Success Center at Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development and the schools in order to connect students and families to resources and supports to stabilize their housing and prevent homelessness. Every year, nearly half of all families who work with Project RISE move beyond the cycle of instability and 98% of the children avoid a disruptive move to a new school mid-year. United Way has added program partners in Boston as well, and here 73% of the families who work with the program find stable housing.

This year, we also awarded FamilyAid Boston with a United Way Social Innovation Venture Fund grant in partnership with Aetna to develop an early warning data system to help identify and support students experiencing housing instability in Boston before they reach a crisis point.

5. We continued to lead efforts in New Hampshire by investing in the “Home for All” Coalition to End Homelessness in the Greater Seacoast

Over the past year, this Coalition expanded to include over 30 active members and launched a new strategy to engage landlords and property managers to work together to help provide housing and reduce evictions.  

Stay tuned for more posts this month looking back on how together, we are leveraging the power of our region’s nonprofit and business community to create change that lasts for children and families.