Our Why

At the Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance (MHSA), we believe that ending homelessness requires transforming the way Massachusetts addresses it.

Homelessness is a public health crisis, as well as an economic one, and it is the result of system failures, as people struggling with housing affordability, medical and behavioral health conditions and other challenges fall through the cracks in the systems that are meant to serve them. Too often, these individuals are forced to rely on expensive emergency room and hospital visits, the corrections system, emergency shelters and the streets to provide them with a place to stay.

But hope exists. We know these challenges are not insurmountable because we’ve seen how the creation of long-term housing solutions aimed at ending homelessness changes lives.

man in his home in front of comic book figure collection
Photo of Stephanie
man in his home next to family photos

Founded in 1988, MHSA is a nonprofit, public policy advocacy organization that has evolved to include nearly 100 community-based member agencies throughout Massachusetts. With our statewide perspective rooted in the experiences of local communities, MHSA brings member agencies and partners together around a unified vision to build a commonwealth where everyone has access to stable housing and the services they need to thrive.

MHSA advocates for policies that meet the needs of the most vulnerable. We collaborate with member agencies and partners to pilot and scale innovative programs that have already helped thousands of people move into permanent housing. We examine how public systems —  behavioral health, corrections and more  —  feed into homelessness, and we work with local and state partners to make change.

Join us as we work together to end homelessness in Massachusetts.

Accomplishments & Honors

2018 Hearst Health Prize

MHSA at the 2018 Hearst Health Prize awards event

MHSA received the 2018 Hearst Health Prize for Excellence in Population Health for our Home & Healthy for Good (HHG) program. The Hearst Health Prize, in partnership with Jefferson College of Population Health, is given in recognition of an individual’s or organization’s outstanding achievement in managing or improving health in the U.S.

2018 Drucker Prize Finalist

2018 Drucker Prize Finalist

MHSA was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2018 Drucker Prize for our Pay for Success (PFS) program. The Drucker Prize recognizes organizations that demonstrate Peter Drucker’s definition of innovation — “change that creates a new dimension of performance.”

Highland Street Foundation: Support for Veterans

Highland Street Foundation has supported MHSA’s veterans’ housing programs each year since 2013. MHSA focuses on ending homelessness for veterans by providing permanent supportive housing and helping veterans who are able to move into mainstream housing.

Community Health Workers

In 2017, MHSA received a three-year grant from United Health Foundation to develop Hospital to Housing (H2H), a program in partnership with Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership/Beacon Health Options (MBHP/Beacon). H2H community health workers (CHWs) engage individuals experiencing chronic homelessness who have complex health needs, working with them to secure the services and housing that they need. MHSA received additional funding in 2019, through a grant from the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, to further expand CHWs across Massachusetts. H2H is now managed by MBHP/Beacon and is funded through MassHealth.

A Place to Live

MHSA’s newest initiative, A Place to Live, is a cost-efficient, replicable and efficient model of modular micro-unit construction designed specifically to address the needs of people experiencing long-term homelessness. MHSA received funding from Clipper Ship Foundation in 2018 to launch A Place to Live, and in 2020, MHSA was awarded a five-year grant from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) to support the continued development of A Place to Live.

CSPECH: Medicaid Funding for Support Services

MHSA and the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership pioneered a now nationally recognized model for using Medicaid dollars for support services in permanent supportive housing. The Community Support Program for People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness (CSPECH) funds tenant-based services that help individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness find stability in homes of their own.

State Funding for Permanent Supportive Housing

MHSA is the leading advocate for permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts. From the first statewide Housing First program in the state to our permanent supportive housing pilot for LGBTQ young adults and our advocacy for resources for permanent supportive housing providers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, MHSA’s advocacy secures state resources that can be leveraged to fund innovative housing solutions to homelessness.

Financials

  • Government Contracts: (93.2%) $13,055,582
  • Grants and Contributions: (6.1%) $862,591
  • Program Fees: (0.4%) $62,299
  • Interest Income and Gains on Investments: (0.2%) $22,611
  • Program Expenses: (96.9%) $13,627,929
  • Fundraising and Development: (1.5%) $209,271
  • General and Administrative: (1.5%) $216,297