The History of Heading Home Inc.


Our Cambridge Shelter established as our first program. To this day the Cambridge Shelter remains our longest-running program, serving 21 adults.


Our Boston Family Shelter opens as the first family shelter in Massachusetts.


Putnam Place opens as our first program involving permanent housing, in collaboration with Cambridge Housing Authority and Just-A-Start CDC.


Programs such as Shelter Plus Care, McKay House and Susan Duley House are established as some of the area’s earliest “Housing First” models.


Following increased emphasis on creating permanent housing, we change our name from “Shelter Inc.” to “Heading Home.”


In response to a rise in family homelessness, Heading Home is one of the first local agencies to introduce economic mobility programming for homeless families.


Heading Home was founded in 1974 and has been working to end homelessness in Greater Boston every day since. As a local pioneer of the Housing First model, we recognized years ago that when homeless people get and stay housed – as opposed to cycling in and out of shelters – their lives will improve. In 2008 our agency moved away from an emphasis on emergency responses to a focus on permanent housing as our strategy for ending homelessness, resulting in a name change from “Shelter Inc.” to “Heading Home.”

As our name and outcomes now reflect, a home provides the optimal foundation to succeed and thrive. We have successfully created more than 350 units of housing since 2006, and our emergency shelter and transitional programs are now focused on moving residents to permanent housing as quickly as possible.

Over the past 40 years, Heading Home has become the area’s go-to solution provider for homeless families in response to recent trends: Families are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Throughout our history, Heading Home has sought innovative solutions to homelessness, and we have consistently stood out as a leader in the field.