Document Type

Research Report

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Towards the end of fiscal year 2004, the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), the state’s welfare department, initiated eight pilot programs to better serve homeless families, to end the state’s reliance on placing families in hotels/motels, and to enable families living in motels to move into stable housing as quickly as possible. These initiatives were created in reaction to the unacceptably high number of motel placements of homeless families (about 600 in 2003). Motels do provide a needed alternative when emergency shelters are full, but they are a political, fiscal and moral liability. In 2004, DTA, in partnership with its shelter providers, successfully moved all homeless families out of motels and into shelters, subsidized housing, market housing or elsewhere. The savings from this move were reinvested into DTA’s homeless initiatives.

Recognizing the importance of documenting changes in the State of Massachusetts’ approach to family homelessness during the past year, the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts examined the implementation of these eight pilot initiatives interviewing officials at DTA, the Mass. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), local housing authorities, service providers, and homeless advocates. This document provides an overview of these initiatives and details two transitional model programs in greater detail.


This report was created as a companion to the Homeless Prevention Initiative policy scan report, Partners In Prevention (2005), by the Center for Social Policy and prepared for the Boston Foundation. The main author of Partners in Prevention is Donna Haig Friedman, Ph.D., the director of the Center for Social Policy (CSP). The Homeless Prevention Initiative is funded by the Boston Foundation, Starr Foundation, Tufts Health Plan, Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation.

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Social Policy Commons



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