New report: State program keeps thousands housed, saves commonwealth millions every year

MBHP to host press conference on the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program

 

Nov. 14, 2016 (Boston) – This past year, the state’s largest family homelessness prevention program kept 4,065 families out of emergency shelter, and in doing so saved Massachusetts $137 million.

A report to be released this week, called RAFT in Massachusetts 2015-2016: A Survey of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program, takes a look at RAFT and how it helped families in the state in fiscal years 2015 and 2016. The report – published by the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts in collaboration with MBHP and its other member organizations – shows the value of the program, not only in how many thousands of families are diverted from emergency shelter every year but also in the economic savings for the commonwealth.

To explain the importance of the program, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership will host a press conference at the MBHP offices at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 17. The offices are located on the fifth floor at 125 Lincoln St., Boston, between South Station and Chinatown. Present will be MBHP and RHN staff, RHN member agency representatives, and a family who used RAFT to avoid becoming homeless and who will share what the program has meant to them.

The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program helps families who are most in need from becoming homeless. The majority of these clients are women in their 30s with two children, the report shows.

RAFT clients – who apply for help at one of 11 housing agencies statewide – can receive up to $4,000 annually to help them stave off homelessness. Although they can use the aid from year to year, most do not: Only 5 percent of RAFT users in 2016 had received aid the year prior, demonstrating how effective RAFT is at keeping people housed.

Families, once found eligible, use the flexible RAFT benefits to stay stably housed by helping to pay for housing needs such as back rent, utility bills, child care, start-up rental expenses, moving costs and, more.

“With the help that I received from RAFT I was able to be relieved of my stresses surrounding my financial situation and maintain my housing by having my arrears paid – thus, enabling me to better prioritize my money and reorganize my financial structure,” said Kayla, an MBHP RAFT client. “Most importantly, RAFT understands that as humans we all face obstacles and may need a helping hand and are willing to assist those who are assisting themselves first.”

If RAFT were not available, the state could expect to pay $36,855 a year to keep a family sheltered for an average stay of 10 and a half months; in 2016, it would have cost the commonwealth $150 million. The RAFT program only cost $12 million by comparison.

“This report, a continuation of RAFT reports published by MBHP in 2014 and 2015, validates our position that it is dramatically more cost effective to help families retain their housing than to pay the necessary costs for shelter after a family becomes homeless,” noted Christopher Norris, executive director of MBHP. “RAFT helps families in jeopardy of losing their housing keep their homes, experience less trauma and uncertainty, and retain their dignity. We consider RAFT crucial in helping families remain in safe, decent homes they can afford as we wait for an increased supply of housing that is affordable to those most in need.”

For more information, contact MBHP Director of Communications, Development and Policy Steven Farrell at (617) 425-6673 or email Steven.Farrell@MBHP.org.

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Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership is a leading nonprofit dedicated to connecting the residents of Greater Boston with safe, decent homes they can afford. We are an industry-leading expert on navigating the affordable housing field, we strive to exceed expectations. We use every dollar wisely to achieve results.

The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts has worked on a regional level to address the needs of constituents for 38 years. Network members – Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, Community Teamwork Inc., Franklin County Housing and Redevelopment Authority, HAPHousing, Housing Assistance Corporation, Housing Solutions for Southeastern Massachusetts, Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership Inc., RCAP Solutions Inc. and South Middlesex Opportunity Council Inc. – cover the commonwealth and are available to all 351 cities and towns for assistance with housing development, management and policy setting. All of this is in addition to the network’s core work of implementing and managing innovative and traditional housing programs designed to assist people of all income levels. Learn more at www.regionalhousing.net.

In addition to the member agencies, Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance and Lynn Housing and Neighborhood Development also contributed data to the RAFT report.



  
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