Innovation in The Spotlight:
MBHP Pilot Re-Housing Program
A new pilot program aimed at rapidly re-housing homeless families sheltered in the Cambridge Gateway Inn motel was begun by MBHP in partnership with Sojourner House and the Family to Family Project. This program has become the model for facilitating the transition from shelter to housing for homeless families living in motels or hotels across the region.
MBHP Housing Supports staff and volunteers met the 76 homeless families at the Cambridge Gateway Inn motel in August to collect essential information regarding their family size, income, usable assets, and other personal data, to help connect homeless families with appropriate landlords. The team identified families who could transition quickly from homelessness to housing with some rental assistance for a determined period. Often these include families with one or more members who are employed or can access other sources of income.
After the interviews, 25 families were identified as those best positioned for rapid re-housing using the EA Housing Stabilization Program (HSP), a government-funded, limited emergency assistance program. Sojourner House is helping MBHP access HSP resources.
With a long-term strategic plan for achieving a stable income, debt reduction, and better employment, families sign leases that bring a year of almost guaranteed rental stability. The confluence of a slow housing market and a surplus of vacant apartments is proving beneficial to the program. With a per-family maximum benefit of $12,000 or 12 months (whichever is less), HSP funds can provide up to 75 percent of a family’s rental costs and are paid directly to the landlords. Alternatively, sheltering a family in a motel can cost the state up to $3,000 per month per family.
By November 1, 21 of the 25 pilot program families were housed or had signed leases using HSP funds. As the pilot project ends after more than two months, MBHP is pleased to announce that the concept will be used in multiple motels across the region, including Boston, Brighton, Brookline, Cambridge, Chelsea, Malden, Quincy and Waltham.
In September MBHP was selected by the Commonwealth to receive and administer more than $4 million in federal Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Re-housing funds through the Obama administration’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. MBHP will work with its partner agency, Heading Home, Inc., to bring the Gateway project to scale around the Metro Boston Network by mid-November.
** The above report is derived from a recent press release by the Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership (MBHP), a regional provider of rental housing voucher assistance in the state of Massachusetts. MBHP serves homeless, elderly, disabled, and low- and moderate-income individuals and families through programs that encourage housing stability, increase economic self sufficiency, and enhance the quality of life.**