15 Sep Report: MBHP helps more than 3,000 families facing homelessness, saves Massachusetts $60 million
Nonprofit unveils report covering three years of data
BOSTON— A state-funded homelessness prevention program has saved the Commonwealth tens of millions of dollars according to a new report from Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership, a Boston-based housing nonprofit that administers the program.
RAFT, which stands for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, provides financial help for families experiencing a housing crisis. The program is especially helpful for families at the lowest income levels: nearly three-quarters of the families who received RAFT assistance last year had an income of less than 30 percent of the area median income (in Boston, that amounts to $24,450 for a family of three). Without RAFT, these families would likely have qualified to enter the state’s already-overcrowded shelter system.
“We believe that RAFT, by helping these families stay out of shelter, has saved the state approximately $20 million dollars each year. That’s an overall savings of $60 million in our region alone in the last three years,” said MBHP Executive Director Chris Norris.
The report, entitled RAFT in Review II, represents the only data of its kind. MBHP has been meticulously tracking the program numbers since 2013 when the program was reinstated and the nonprofit was selected by the state to administer it in the Greater Boston region.
The report also demonstrates that RAFT is not over-utilized by recipients. Out of the more than 3,000 families who have received RAFT since 2013, only 15 families needed to access RAFT funds all three years.
“RAFT is working precisely as it was intended—it helps families who are in crisis stabilize their situation and avoid entering shelter,” said Norris.
Families can utilize RAFT funds to maintain their housing or secure a new place to live. RAFT can cover moving costs, such as first and last months’ rent, security deposits, and basic furniture, as well as rental or utility arrears.
The report also shows the impact of MBHP’s outreach efforts to suburban communities. While the majority of RAFT funding was distributed to Boston families, funding went to families in 28 of the 30 communities MBHP serves.
MBHP released the report on September 15 at a panel discussion the nonprofit held to discuss strategies for preventing homelessness. The panel was moderated by Rose Evans, Deputy Undersecretary of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. Panelists included Regine Crispin of MBHP; Lynn Delidow, vice president and regional manager of Maloney Properties; and Gail Livingstone, deputy administrator of housing programs for Boston Housing Authority.
Also on the panel was Lisa Grullon, who was able to avoid eviction after receiving RAFT funding through MBHP.
“Without the RAFT program, I would have been in a tremendous crisis,” said Grullon. Downsized from her job, she fell behind in rent and was facing eviction. RAFT covered her rent arrears and allowed her to finish out her lease. Since then, she has earned new employment, increased her income, and resumed completion of her master’s degree.
“I had been doing really well and just hit hard times. It really can happen to anybody,” said Grullon. “Without RAFT, I may have gotten this far but it would have taken much longer.”