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Public Policy Advocacy

Amplifying the voices of the families we serve.

 

Through One Family's public policy efforts, we advocate for impactful anti-poverty and anti-homelessness initiatives and resources, with a particular focus on preventing family homelessness before it occurs. One Family program participants, alumni, Board members, staff, and supporters engage directly with policymakers to advance these advocacy goals.

Learn about One Family's Advocacy Team here.

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Advocacy Agenda & Resources

Woman in polka dot shirt standing in front of the MA state house.

​​One Family's public policy advocacy agenda is organized around four strategies for preventing and ending family homelessness:

  • Strategy #1: Help families build income and assets to secure a home, and dismantle racist barriers to having a home
     

  • Strategy #2: Help families experiencing economic distress keep their homes
     

  • Strategy #3: Improve availability and affordability of homes
     

  • Strategy #4: Help families experiencing homelessness get a home and achieve self-sufficiency

To learn more about our legislative priorities for each of these strategies, download our full advocacy agenda below:

If you'd like an overview of some of the key public policy processes involved in this advocacy work, please visit the links below:

Public Policy Achievements

Senator Jamie Eldridge with two constituent women.
  • ​Working collaboratively as a member of the Healthy Families EITC Coalition, One Family was part of the successful effort to significantly increase the Massachusetts Earned Income Tax Credit. This policy change will put money directly in the pockets of families headed by working parents, helping over 400,000 low-income working Massachusetts families to make ends meet. As a result of this victory, a Massachusetts family with two children eligible for the maximum credit will receive $1,684.80, an increase of 30%.

  • By engaging our program participants in our Public Policy efforts, One Family has supported the leadership development of dozens of One Family Scholars and C2C Participants, equipping them with advocacy skills that they can now use in ongoing efforts to make positive change.
     

  • Led by State Representatives Kay Khan & Jack Lewis and State Senator Jamie Eldridge, members of the Massachusetts Legislature have successfully advocated for including funding for the One Family Scholars program in the MA state budget five years in a row, including a 30% increased investment.
     

  • Spearheaded by State Senator Michael Brady, the Massachusetts Legislature invested over $500,000 of federal pandemic relief funds in One Family's Credential to Career Coaching (C2C) program.

Video highlighting the work of One Family's Advocacy Team.

Recent Testimony & Other Documents

Three people smiling in front of the Massachusetts state house.

​​As part of our advocacy efforts, One Family program participants, staff, and Board members hold in-person meetings with legislators, engage in email advocacy, provide testimony on proposed legislation, and more. Below are examples of One Family's recent written testimony, but you can also watch recent video testimonies from our Advocacy Team here.

Testimony submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Higher Education in support of H.1277, An Act ensuring students' access to academic transcripts.

Testimony submitted to the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Housing on 3 bills:
 

  • H.1312/S.856, An Act providing upstream homelessness prevention assistance to families, youth, and adults;

  • H.1297/S.890, An Act promoting housing stability for families by strengthening the HomeBASE program; and

  • H.1301/S.868, An Act to eliminate asset limits for homeless shelters.

One Family testimony in support of H.359/S.180, An Act to End Housing Discrimination in the Commonwealth.

One Family testimony in support of three bills which would help prevent eviction and homelessness, and protect families that have previously been evicted from being "marked for life" in the housing market.

Sign-on letter asking the Massachusetts Legislature to remove the requirement that a tenant receive a Notice to Quit from their landlord before applying for RAFT (Rental Assistance for Families in Transition).

Sign-on letter in support of measures that will help end food insecurity on Massachusetts college campuses.

Sign-on letter in support of an increased investment in child care for student-parents through the CCAMPIS program (Child Care Access Means Parents In School).

Facts on Family Homelessness

The State of Family Homelessness

  • On any given day, about 50,000 families with about 95,000 children experience homelessness in the U.S. (i) This number does not include countless families experiencing homelessness while living doubled-up or in campgrounds, cars, and other unsuitable shelter.

  • Each day in Massachusetts, there are more than 5,000 families with over 10,000 children experiencing homelessness in the Commonwealth's emergency shelter system. (ii) Thousands more experience family homelessness living doubled-up, couch-surfing, or in campgrounds and cars. Over the course of a full year, these many forms of homelessness will impact countless other children and parents in our Commonwealth.

  • During the 2019-2020 school year, Massachusetts public schools identified 22,648 students experiencing homelessness. (iii) This data captures very few children under age six, who comprise half of all children experiencing homelessness (iv) - leading to an estimated 44,000 children experiencing homelessness in Massachusetts over the course of the 2019-2020 school year.

  • At last count, 160,000 families across Massachusetts were on waiting lists to access public housing (v)


 

The Causes of Family Homelessness


The primary causes of family homelessness are a lack of affordable housing and a lack of family-sustaining jobs for parents with limited higher education. Families often fall into homelessness because of an unforeseen financial challenge, such as a death in the family, loss of a job, domestic violence, or unexpected medical bill, creating a situation where the family cannot maintain housing.


 

The Effects of Family Homelessness


Children experiencing homelessness often experience disrupted school and educational development. Children experiencing homelessness are also:

 

  • 2-4 times more likely to have mental health problems requiring clinical evaluation (vi)

  • Twice as likely as other children to have a learning disability, repeat a grade, or be suspended from school (vii)

  • Twice as likely to experience hunger (vii)

  • Less likely to have adequate access to medical and dental care, with increased incidence of malnutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, and chronic illness (vii)

  • More vulnerable to developmental delays, poor cognitive outcomes, and depression (viii)

There are significant increases in rates of depression among mothers who experience homelessness (45% to 85%) compared to all low-income mothers (40% to 60%) and to all individuals living in poverty (25%) (ix)

i. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2022 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress. (December 2022)
ii. The State House News Service reported that as of July 2023, there were over 5,100 families in the Commonwealth's Emergency Assistance Shelter system. "Migrant Influx Fills Hotels, Strains State Shelter Capacity" (7/19/2023). Multiple data sources show that there are typically an average of two children in each family experiencing homelessness.

iii. https://nche.ed.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Student-Homelessness-in-America-2021.pdf
iv. https://www.samhsa.gov/homelessness-programs-resources/hpr-resources/child-homelessness-growing-crisis

v. Lisinski, Chris. "Secretary Warns "Time is Not Our Friend" to Address Housing Shortage". Statehouse News Service. 2019.

vi. Bassuk, Richard, and Tsertsvadze. The Prevalence of Mental Illness in Homeless Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 2014.
vii. American Psychological Association. Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth. 2018.
viii. United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Ending Family Homelessness, Improving Outcomes for Children. 2016.
ix. Bassuk and Beardslee. Depression in Homeless Mothers: Addressing an Unrecognized Public Health Issue. 2014.

Baby seated on mother's lap while the mother does work at a desk.

Learn More About Our Policy Advocacy

Interested in learning more about One Family's advocacy work and the topic of family homelessness, or interested in getting involved? Use the form below to contact our Public Policy team:

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