According to the 2016 Annual Homeless Assessment Report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the number of families experiencing homelessness in the U.S. represents 36% of the overall homeless population. In Massachusetts, family homelessness is a very serious issue. Point-In-Time homeless counts between FY2008 and FY2016 highlight the gravity of the issue in Massachusetts with the number of families residing in shelter increasing by 93% over the 8-years. Massachusetts is one of the top states with the greatest increases in families experiencing homelessness.

Families come to experience homelessness due to a variety of factors. Often, homeless families experience deep poverty and work in minimum-wage jobs in cities that lack affordable housing. In Massachusetts, an individual employed making minimum wage (currently $11/hour) would need to work 83 hours a week or make $25.91/hour to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment at average fair market rent rates. Each day, families are forced to choose between paying for housing, food, transportation, childcare, healthcare, education, and more. Additional factors that can contribute to families entering shelter are domestic violence, mental health issues, unemployment, substance addiction, and more.

The “typical” family residing in shelter is made up of a single-mother head of household in her late twenties with two children. Life in shelter can be incredibly disruptive to the establishment of healthy daily routines for young children and their parent(s). The Boston 1st Service Platoon recognizes that family homelessness in Massachusetts is a serious issue, and we want to be a part of the solution by supporting the organizational capacity of key providers in Boston and Cambridge for children and families experiencing homelessness. In addition to partnering with family shelter organizations in the Greater Boston area, the Boston 1st Service Platoon is eager to tackle this issue from an educational perspective as well. Students experiencing poverty and homelessness often miss school because they do not have appropriate school clothing and toiletries.