Research and Facts
Homelessness in Massachusetts:
- 3,500 families are homeless in Massachusetts (as of October 2011)i
- 1,437 of whom are staying in budget motels because shelter capacity is full (as of October 2011)ii
- 4,041 individuals are homeless in Massachusetts (as of 2010)iii
- Within the total 7,680 Massachusetts households that are homeless, 1,181 are homeless veteransiv
Homelessness in America:
- There are 643,067 people experiencing homelessness on any given night in the United States.
- Of that number, 238,110 are people in families, and 404,957 are individuals.
- 17 percent of the homeless population is considered chronically homeless, and
- 12 percent of the homeless population - 67,000 - are veteransiv
About Family Homelessness:
Families experiencing homelessness are similar to other, housed families living in poverty. Families experiencing homelessness share similar characteristics with very low-income housed families: they are usually headed by a single woman with limited education, are usually young, and have high rates of domestic violence and mental illness.
Homelessness is rare even for extremely low-income families. Families often fall into homelessness because of an unforeseen financial challenge, such as a death in the family, a lost job, or an unexpected bill, creating a situation where the family cannot maintain housing.
The primary causes of family homelessness are lack of affordable housing and lack of family sustaining jobs for parents with low educational levels.
Adverse effects of homelessness on parents and children have been well documented and include:
- Disrupted school and educational development. Children experiencing homelessness are
- 4 times more likely to show delayed developmentv
- Twice as likely to have learning disabilities as non-homeless childrenvi
- Half of homeless children attend 3 different schools in one yearvii
- Twice as likely to repeat a gradeviii
- Higher rates of mental and emotional problems develop in homeless children than in housed children.ix
- Prolonged homelessness significantly increases rates of depression and mental health issues in both parents and children.x
- Disrupted employment – experiencing homelessness interferes with finding stable employment and limits earnings.xi
i. Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. October 2011
ii. Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. October 2011
iii. HUD Continuum of Care point in time count taken in 2010
iv. From the National Alliance to End Homelessness. 2011
v. National Center on Family Homelessness. 1999
vi. National Center on Family Homelessness. 1999
vii. The Institute for Children and Poverty, 2006
viii. National Center on Family Homelessness. 2000
ix. National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (2005). Facts on Trauma and Homeless Children. Available at
x. Weinreb, L. et al. (2006). A Comparison of the Health and Mental Health Status of Homeless Mothers in Worcester, Mass: 1993 and 2003. American Journal of Public Health. 96(8): 1444-1448.
xi. Every Child A Home: A Proposal for a Public/ Private Strike Force to Address Family Homelessness in the Commonwealth. One Family, Inc. 2003.
Older documents may be found in our Research Archive.