We can end homelessness — but not with emergency shelters alone. Although necessary, these shelters are meant to be short-term interventions, and they don’t provide the most essential component of ending homelessness: housing.

MHSA spearheaded the introduction of Housing First programs in Massachusetts. The Housing First approach centers around providing permanent housing as the solution to homelessness and the foundation for people experiencing homelessness to pursue their goals. Guided by the belief that everyone can achieve stability in permanent housing directly from homelessness, Housing First’s framework prioritizes providing a place to live as quickly as possible.

Permanent supportive housing is a Housing First intervention typically targeted to people who have experienced chronic homelessness and also face the challenges of chronic illnesses, mental health needs or substance use disorders. Supportive services are offered to help them stay housed and improve their quality of life. Rapid re-housing provides short-term support, often in the form of rental assistance. The goal is to quickly get the person into housing so they can maintain their self-sufficiency and then stay housed.


Photo of Stephanie


Stephanie grew up outside of Boston with a supportive family, but following the death of one of her brothers and then the loss of her first child, her entire life turned upside down. She began self-medicating with drugs.

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Photo of Peter


Peter grew up in southeastern Massachusetts with a brother, two sisters and an abusive, alcoholic father, who encouraged him to start fights with others. Seeking his father’s approval, Peter would get into fights and hurt other people, but his violent and unstable home environment caused him to turn to alcohol and drugs by the age of 13.

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Photo of Karen in her kitchen


After struggling with financial and health issues, Karen was forced to make the difficult decision between spending the night in shelters crowded with strangers or on the streets hiding from predators every night.

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Photo of Al


Battling depression after the death of his mother on Mother’s Day and unable to afford to stay in the home in which he grew up, Al packed a tent, some clothes and food and found a spot in the woods nearby.

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Massachusetts is one of the nation’s leaders in reducing chronic homelessness.


Since 2006, MHSA’s Housing First programs across the commonwealth have housed more than 2,100 people.


Millions of dollars in savings to taxpayers through deep reductions in emergency expenses like emergency room visits, jail nights, property damage, court fees and more.


Measurable reductions in the number of people experiencing chronic homelessness.