Since the Great Recession, homeless families have especially struggled – families remain the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. In response, since 2010 Heading Home has placed more than 700 families into permanent housing, and we have done so alongside increasingly effective services. We provide housing plus access to the skills family members need to not only stabilize but measurably improve their economic status. Heading Home encourages economic mobility through a multilayered service approach that promotes financial literacy, higher education, employment and access to good job tracks, while simultaneously cultivating successful attitudes and behaviors.
Family homelessness is especially complex and pervasive in Greater Boston given the high cost of living and lack of affordable housing. Statistically, 95%+ of homeless families are headed by a single mother with minimal education. This can lead to unemployment or working 2-3 low-wage jobs, the combined income of which cannot pay the rent. And while many homeless parents are intelligent and motivated, they were never taught how to save. To further help local families get ahead, in 2013 Heading Home added staff specialists to help parents gain financial and employment education, conduct complex permanent housing searches and achieve long-term economic mobility. These specialists work alongside case managers to help parents achieve goals other organizations might consider lofty, using unique coaching techniques. For example, to encourage parents’ motivation for change, our staff utilizes Motivational Interviewing, a collaborative, person-centered form of guiding. We are proud to be one of few area nonprofits consistently using this sophisticated coaching tool in our case management.
Consistently an organization of firsts, Heading Home was not only one of the first local agencies to tackle the emerging crisis of family homelessness, but also the first local agency to differentiate higher levels of services ambitiously aimed at families’ long-term economic mobility. In 2009, we introduced unprecedented program models to offer Boston-area families an accelerated pathway out of homelessness with reward-based incentives. Some families engage in our services for up to a year, while others take a longer, more advanced approach. As an outcome-driven organization, and recognizing that no two paths are the same, Heading Home will continue to help families achieve meaningful economic mobility.