We are patiently awaiting for the Emergency Assistance 4th Quarter Report to be posted on the DHCD website. That report will have the un-duplicated totals for the 2019 fiscal year, July 1, 2018 through June 30th, 2019. In the meantime, we have been analyzing the June monthly report, which is currently posted online. The June report has the year end totals, but does not have un-duplicated numbers – this means a family that applies for EA shelter multiple times is counted as many times as they submitted an application. Once the quarterly report comes out, we will share more numbers and info-graphics…and in the meantime, we present the following:
Fig. 1: Applications and Placements
Please note, that this is the un-duplicated number. And for comparison – 8,145 applications were processed in FY2018, with 4,895 families entering the EA system. Over, 7,000 applications and 4,000 new entries per year is a very overwhelming number, especially when we stop to consider the humans and children those numbers represent. At the peak crisis, in FY2014 -13,115 applications were processed and 6,562 families entered the system.
Fig. 2: Applications and Placement by Region
Data often inspires more questions than answers; there is a lot to consider here, including front door practices and regional differences. These rates have varied over time, but without knowing the reasons families are deemed ineligible, it makes it hard to understand trends, develop prevention strategies, and understand how to address unmet needs.
Fig. 3: Reasons for Homelessness – Evictions
The most common reasons for homelessness, per DHCD reports and how the data is collected, remain irregular housing at 41% of FY19 entries, and actively fleeing domestic violence at and staying in places not meant for human habitation – each at 16%. The reports parse out the Eviction categories, so the total percent (14%) or number of families (471) entering EA shelter as a direct result of eviction is easily overlooked. This data does inspire solutions and helps makes the case for some of the initiatives before the legislature and municipalities. These include more funding for Eviction Prevention programs, including RAFT and TPP; new initiatives like Right to Council and revisiting old ideas, like Rent Control and new imperatives like combating tenant blacklisting (read more here and here).
Fig. 4: Shelter Exits
A total of 3,090 households exited the EA shelter system in FY2019, this includes – 445 households that “abandoned shelter”, 364 families that found other feasible alternative housing without any financial assistance, and 290 families on a Temporary Shelter Interruption. A total of 2,036 household exited shelter with the help of HomeBASE and/or another subsidy or financial assistance. Only 674 households exited the system with a “permanent” subsidy. With the gap between wages and rent, exacerbated by the growth of the low wage job market and steep rises to tent, and the number of families entering homelessness each year, the number of subsidies must increase if we are to continue to make progress addressing homelessness in MA.
Graphics by Brianna Gaddy