Public Policy Advocacy
Through our public policy advocacy, One Family amplifies the voices of the families we serve.
We advocate for government policies and resources to support families experiencing or at risk of homelessness on their journeys towards greater self-sufficiency, 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.
Advocacy Agenda & Resources
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
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
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.
One Family's written testimony in support of the bill to clamp down on discrimination against People of Color and families with housing vouchers seeking to rent a residence in Massachusetts.
One Family testimony in support of legislation to provide enhanced support to Massachusetts families with low and moderate incomes through the state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).
One Family testimony in support of legislation to provide affordable and accessible early education and care to all Massachusetts families.
As part of the MA Hunger-Free Campus Coalition, One Family was proud to sign on to a letter in support of “An Act establishing the Massachusetts Hunger-Free Campus Initiative."
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).
Sign-on letter in support of measures that will help end food insecurity on Massachusetts college campuses.
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).
Facts on Family Homelessness
The State of Family Homelessness
On any given day, over 130,000 parents and children experience homelessness in the U.S. (i) This number does not include countless more families experiencing homelessness while living doubled-up or in campgrounds, cars, and other unsuitable shelter.
Each day in Massachusetts, there are at least 10,000 parents and children experiencing family homelessness in shelters and transitional housing. (i) 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. (ii) This data captures very few children under age six, who comprise half of all children experiencing homelessness (iii) - 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 (iv)
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 (v)
Twice as likely as other children to have a learning disability, repeat a grade, or be suspended from school (vi)
Twice as likely to experience hunger (vi)
Less likely to have adequate access to medical and dental care, with increased incidence of malnutrition, exposure to environmental toxins, and chronic illness (vi)
More vulnerable to developmental delays, poor cognitive outcomes, and depression (vii)
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%) (viii)
i. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 2021 Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress. (February 2022.
iv. Lisinski, Chris. "Secretary Warns "Time is Not Our Friend" to Address Housing Shortage". Statehouse News Service. 2019.
v. Bassuk, Richard, and Tsertsvadze. The Prevalence of Mental Illness in Homeless Children: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 2014.
vi. American Psychological Association. Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth. 2018.
vii. United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Ending Family Homelessness, Improving Outcomes for Children. 2016.
viii. Bassuk and Beardslee. Depression in Homeless Mothers: Addressing an Unrecognized Public Health Issue. 2014.
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: