$1 Million Program Launched to Prevent Homelessness in Massachusetts

December 15, 2005


Boston and Waltham, MA – The Boston Foundation, Tufts Health Plan and the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation have launched the Homeless Prevention Initiative, which today awarded $1 million in grants to programs that address the causes of homelessness. This funding collaboration will leverage their combined resources to expand and replicate the most promising efforts to prevent homelessness among families and individuals in Massachusetts. The Initiative is being launched as the Commonwealth of Massachusetts re-examines its overall approach to assisting the homeless, focusing on prevention as an important strategy.

The funding comes at a time when homelessness has reached crisis levels in the Commonwealth. According to recent studies, Massachusetts is the least affordable state in the nation for renters, and the third most expensive for potential homeowners. Every evening, 1,600 families seek beds in emergency shelters or motels, and the Commonwealth is spending $250 million annually on emergency support for the homeless – a figure that does not include the cost of related services, such as medical care and counseling.

“The Homelessness Prevention Initiative is the philanthropic community’s effort to champion the cost-effective strategy of prevention. The initiative will use a multi-pronged approach to examine the effectiveness of a range of approaches, both new models implemented and evaluated by local providers and proven existing models, ” said Paul S. Grogan, President and CEO of the Boston Foundation. “Then, equipped with the outcome data that demonstrates what works, the state will be able to reinvest in prevention by directing resources toward proven strategies. Given the State’s recently renewed interest in prevention, this Initiative has a great potential to impact state policy and priorities.”

The programs that have been selected to receive funding each focus on individuals and families at significant risk of becoming homeless. Programs target those in need of direct assistance and stabilization; discharge planning and placement for those being released from care and custody; supportive housing services; mental health support; and substance abuse counseling. The Initiative will bring together organizations providing a diverse range of programs to share best practices and recommendations, with a goal of advancing knowledge of what works in the area of prevention, providing outcome data and providing proven models on how to prevent homelessness.

“The ability to access health care and mental health services are part of the solution to breaking the cycle of homelessness,” said Nancy Leaming, President and CEO of Tufts Health Plan. “By providing the support these families and individuals need to get and stay healthy, we are eliminating one hurdle and potential issue in their ability to remain in stable housing.”
John M. Crowe, M.D., chairman of the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, said “Physicians and their families in the state are proud to be part of this effort to fund services to prevent people from becoming homeless. Medicine is as much about prevention as it is about treatment, and these programs are ‘preventive medicine’ at its best – keeping families away from the plight of homelessness.”

The Initiative was started last spring, under the leadership of the Boston Foundation and Tufts Health Plan. A collaborative of local funders established the Homelessness Prevention Initiative as an effort to focus attention and resources on this issue, drawing on the expertise of a diverse advisory committee of advocates, providers and public officials. The $700,000 core funding for the Initiative comes from a grant from the Starr Foundation of New York City to the Boston Foundation, and from the Munro Fund at the Boston Foundation. A grant from Tufts Health Plan of $250,000 and $50,000 from the Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation put the Initiative at the $1 million target.

Programs receiving grants:

Gosnold, Inc. $83,600

Goal: Prevent 85 women and children from homelessness on Cape Cod and the Islands

The Newton Community Service Center, Inc. $50,953

Goal: Assist 75 pregnant and young parents at risk for homelessness in Newton, Waltham, Wellesley, Needham and Watertown

Mental Health Assn, Inc. $49,254

Goal: Help 125 mothers and children in the Springfield area at risk of being evicted because of mental illness.

Interseminarian-Project Place $60,000

Goal: Prevent 50 women in Greater Boston from becoming homeless once they are released from prison

Family Health Center of Worcester, Inc. $64,244

Goal: Provide housing and health services for 50 homeless or transient families in the Worcester area

Rosie’s Place $40,000

Goal: Assist 60 mentally ill women in danger of becoming homeless in Greater Boston

HarborCov $60,000

Goal: Provide direct financial assistance to low-income families in Chelsea, Revere, East Boston and Winthrop affected by domestic violence

Span $60,000

Goal: Provide case management services to help reintegrate adults statewide being released from custody

Somerville Mental Health Association $55,000

Goal: Provide behavioral health outreach to Somerville families at-risk of homelessness

Homes for Families $65,000

Goal: Provides direct support for Boston families who apply for state assistance but are over the income limit for DTA assistance

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless $60,000

Goal: To place housing advocates in Boston community health centers to act as an early warning prevention team providing support to families before they lose housing

Family to Family $50,000

Goal: Provide direct economic assistance and stabilization services to families in the Boston area

Advocates $50,000

Goal: Provide legal support and assist Metrowest families with finding affordable housing

HomeStart $75,000

Goal: Provide a single-point of entry to legal, advocacy and mediation services for Greater Boston families currently residing in public housing and at-risk for eviction

Tri-City Community Action Programs $50,000

Goal: Provide counseling, support and secure agreements between Malden and Everett families and public housing authorities to suspend eviction proceedings for one-year for tenants

Caritas Communities $25,000

Goal: Provide rental assistance and locate housing for low-income individuals

Bridge Over Troubled Waters $50,000

Goal: Provide intensive case management for youth at-risk for homelessness and facing barriers to obtaining permanent housing

Victory Programs $50,000

Goal: A homelessness prevention specialist will provide intensive case management for people discharged from residential substance abuse programs

About the Initiative Partners

The Boston Foundation, one of the nation’s oldest and largest community foundations, has an endowment of more than $570 million, made grants of $48 million to nonprofit organizations, and received gifts of $38 million last year. The Boston Foundation is made up of 750 separate charitable funds, which have been established by donors either for the general benefit of the community or for special purposes. The Boston Foundation also serves as a civic leader, convener, and sponsor of special initiatives designed to build community. For more information about the Boston Foundation and its grant making, visit www.tbf.org , or call 617-338-1700.

Tufts Health Plan’s Community Partnerships program was formed in 1997. The program supports health improvement at the community level through prevention and health promotion activities within target populations of underserved, at-risk women and infants, elders and teens. Through its Community Partnerships program, Tufts Health Plan seeks to support, advance and advocate for public health goals and community-based prevention. Last year, Tufts Health Plan began a three-year $1.5 million funding commitment to organizations providing teen mental health services. The grants presented today represent one year of a multi-year $750,000 commitment to this initiative.

The Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation is a supporting organization of the Massachusetts Medical Society, the statewide association of physicians, and the MMS Alliance, the organization of physicians' spouses committed to promoting good health among the citizens of Mass. The Foundation's mission is to support the charitable and educational activities of the Society and Alliance and address issues affecting the health, benefit, and welfare of the community. The Massachusetts Medical Society, with 18,000 members, is dedicated to educating and advocating for the physicians and patients of Massachusetts. It owns and publishes The New England Journal of Medicine, the Journal Watch family of professional newsletters, and AIDS Clinical Care, and produces HealthNews, a consumer health publication.