Document Type

Research Report

Publication Date



A central objective of the Homelessness Prevention Initiative (HPI) is to generate information for state policymakers on viable statewide approaches for investing in homelessness prevention. Therefore, to contextualize the policy relevance of HPI evaluation findings and to add to the strength of recommendations, the evaluation team has systematically explored examples of community-wide homelessness prevention efforts already underway in Massachusetts and in other parts of the country.

We selected communities that met the following criteria:

  • The prevention network included an entire county, city, region or state.
  • Cross-organizational resource-sharing, policies and interventions were in place.
  • The collaboration engaged in primary prevention, that is, it addressed potential homelessness before it occurred.
  • The cross-organization collaboration was focused on: Preventing families and/or individuals from losing their hold on housing; or preventing discharge from an institution to the streets.

In addition, we include a brief write-up of two innovative prevention standalone programs. ValueOptions of Maricopa Co., AZ is a for-profit company that implements a model of prevention that creates housing; Lifelong Family connections is a program in Massachusetts that connects youth leaving the foster care system with substantive social connections for life.

Note: As a companion to this report, recognizing the importance of documenting changes in the State of Massachusetts’ approach to family homelessness during the past year, the authors examined the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance’s implementation of homelessness pilot initiatives. These programs aimed to end the state’s reliance on hotel/motel shelter and to enable families living in motels to move into stable housing as quickly as possible. That report can be found at

This report begins with a summary of learnings from a cross-community perspective. We contrast and compare communities’ approaches along several dimensions, including: overall strategies and philosophies; the people they serve; the range of interventions they use; organizational and leadership structures; partnership approaches; funding and sustainability strategies; outcome measurement approaches; successes and challenges. The primary focus is on highlighting lessons relevant for Massachusetts. This section ends with a set of questions that present perplexing dilemmas for any city, state or region planning body attempting to undertake a community-wide prevention initiative.

Section Two of the report offers a detailed analysis of each of the six community-wide initiatives. These communities (in alphabetical order) are: Cape Cod, MA; Columbus/Franklin County, Ohio; the state of Minnesota; New York City, NY; Washington DC; and Worcester, MA.

Section Three of the report describes two innovative stand-alone prevention programs. One program is a private sector response to prevention, and the other is a social support program for youth leaving foster care.


Prepared by the Center for Social Policy for The Boston Foundation.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.