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The Clayton-Mathews and Wilson 2003 analysis of Massachusetts’ expenditures of state and federal dollars to address family homelessness documented a serious system misalignment of public resources: that is, 80% of state and federal resources were tied up in shelter provision, while only 20%, including rental assistance, were designated for homelessness prevention (Clayton-Matthews and Wilson, 2003). Their analysis demonstrated what many had long suspected: if homelessness is to be ended in Massachusetts, fundamental changes would be needed to shift the state system from shelter-oriented toward prevention-oriented. Both the Romney and the Patrick administrations have clearly prioritized this objective with broad-based support and involvement from public, philanthropic, business and nonprofit stakeholders. This essay begins with an overview of the system redesign components being implemented by the state administration, as well as those proposed by the Governor which require legislative approval. Following this overview are the research team’s perspectives on these changes, grounded in what is known about effective homelessness prevention strategies and what has been learned through the project team’s other analytical work. The essay ends with the research team’s recommendations.


Center for Social Policy Working Paper #2009-9.



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