Tufts Health Plan Foundation awards $170,000 to Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership

Community-based program addresses hoarding


WATERTOWN, MA — The Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced today a grant of $170,000 awarded to Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP) to work with the cities of Boston and Cambridge to improve and coordinate their responses to residential hoarding and help elders with hoarding remain safely in their homes.

The three-year grant will expand MBHP’s innovative hoarding intervention program which, over the past three years, has helped 150 people avoid eviction and housing loss due to hoarding. The MBHP model, which was developed with the Boston University School of Social Work, emphasizes a shift from punitive evictions to a proactive case management approach. Weekly or biweekly home visits focus on helping clients sort and discard belongings to reduce safety risks and avoid eviction. The model provides socially isolated clients with a skilled ally and links them to other services to improve their health and functioning.

Evaluations have shown MBHP’s program to be effective and cost-efficient. A recent study showed a 98 percent success rate. And while evictions can cost upwards of $10,000 per client, MBHP’s model costs on average $1,800 per client.

Hoarding is a mental illness affecting approximately 15 million people in the U.S, including 37,000 residents in Cambridge and Boston. Nearly 70 percent of MBHP hoarding cases occur in these two cities. The funding from Tufts Health Plan Foundation will allow MBHP to solidify existing partnerships—the nonprofit has been collaborating with the City of Cambridge since 2012 and worked with the City of Boston in 2015 to develop city-wide best practices for hoarding response.

MBHP’s program, which has been replicated in Bedford and Burlington, Mass., as well as San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Burlington, Vt., also focuses on trainings to increase awareness of hoarding issues among code enforcement officers, housing providers, social workers, and first responders. They also provide assessment tools and communication strategies.

“We invest in partnerships that bring together diverse leaders from business, nonprofits, government, and the community to address community needs,” said Nora Moreno Cargie, president of the Tufts Health Plan Foundation and vice president, corporate citizenship for Tufts Health Plan. “These initiatives are inclusive, led by community, and represent true cross-sector collaboration. By leveraging Foundation resources, grantees can implement promising practices and proven strategies—and accelerate progress.”

“This grant from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation will help MBHP and our partners to take our groundbreaking hoarding intervention work to the next level,” said MBHP Executive Director Chris Norris. “Too many people with hoarding risk losing their homes, and even their lives, because of circumstances that are entirely preventable. This is an exciting opportunity to transform the way we respond to this mental illness, leveraging our data-driven front-line work to promote systems that support safer, healthier communities for all residents of Boston and Cambridge.”

Part of the Foundation’s Systems and Best Practices focus area, the grant aligns with the Foundation’s support for age-friendly communities by improving the health and wellness of vulnerable older adults.

In all, Tufts Health Plan Foundation announced 12 new grants engaging nearly 300 community organizations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island for a total community investment of $1.8 million.

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