Public Policy

Through our public policy work, 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 in their journeys towards greater self-sufficiency, with a particular focus on preventing family homelessness before it occurs. One Family Scholars, Credential to Career Coaching participants, One Family Board members, staff, and supporters engage directly with policymakers to advance these advocacy goals.


Public Policy Agenda

One Family's public policy agenda is organized around three strategies for preventing family homelessness:

  • Strategy #1: Prevent family homelessness by providing pathways to greater self-sufficiency

  • Strategy #2: Prevent family homelessness by providing access to affordable homes

  • Strategy #3: Amplify the voices of families who have experienced homelessness and housing insecurity

To learn more about our legislative priorities for each of these strategies, download our full advocacy agenda 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 Representative Kay Khan and State Senator Jamie Eldridge, members of the Massachusetts Legislature have successfully advocated for including funding for the One Family Scholars program in the FY19 and FY20 state budgets, as well as an FY20 supplemental budget.

Video highlighting the work of One Family's 2020 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 testimony.

Testimony in support of establishing a rent arrears program to help low-income families pay back-rent, thereby avoiding eviction and preventing homelessness:

Testimony in support of providing emergency cash relief to families and individuals receiving public assistance in Massachusetts, during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Sign-on letter calling on the MA congressional delegation to advocate for $100 billion in federal rental assistance to ensure housing stability and prevent homelessness during & after COVID-19.

One Family joins other organizations from across the U.S. in urging Congress to provide increased funding for childcare for college students raising children through the CCAMPIS program, to support successful completion of college.

One Family joins over 40 organizations from across Massachusetts in supporting Beacon BLOC - a group of Massachusetts State House staffers of color working to dismantle racism within the State House workplace.

Sign-on letter urging the Massachusetts legislature to protect vulnerable families and landlords by extending HomeBASE benefits for families whose benefits are running out, so that they can remain in their home.

Sign-on letter to Senators Warren & Markey, calling them to ensure that any federal COVID relief package includes a 'lookback provision' for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC), so that low- and moderate-income families who have already experienced job loss aren't penalized again with lower tax credits.

Sign-on letter to Governor Charlie Baker and the Massachusetts legislature urging them to pass legislation to pass the COVID-19 Housing Equity bill to prevent evictions and foreclosures.

Facts on Family Homelessness


The State of Family Homelessness

  • On any given day, over 170,000 parents and children experience family homelessness in the U.S. (i) This number does not include countless more families living doubled-up or in campgrounds, cars, and other unsuitable shelter.

  • As of March 2020, 3,367 Massachusetts families were living in homeless shelters overseen by the Massachusetts Dept. of Housing and Community Development. (ii) 

  • Each day in Massachusetts, there are over 12,000 people experiencing family homelessness in shelters and transitional housing. 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. (i)

  • Over the course of the 2018-2019 academic year, public schools across Massachusetts were able to identify 24,777 students who were experiencing homelessness. (iii)

  • 160,000 families across Massachusetts are currently 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 (vii)

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

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

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%) (x)

i. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Annual Homelessness Assessment Report to Congress. 2019.

ii. Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. DHCD EA Monthly Report, Statewide Summary. March 2020.
iii. Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Homeless Student Program Data, 2018-2019.
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, vii, viii. American Psychological Association. Effects of Poverty, Hunger, and Homelessness on Children and Youth. 2018.
ix. United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Ending Family Homelessness, Improving Outcomes for Children. 2016.
x. Bassuk and Beardslee. Depression in Homeless Mothers: Addressing an Unrecognized Public Health Issue. 2014.

One Family Advocacy Team

One Family's Advocacy Team has launched its second year!
This year's team includes 13 members representing One Family Scholars, C2C Participants, and alumni, all of whom are dedicated to creating meaningful change in our Commonwealth. The Advocacy Team informs One Family's public policy agenda, and engages directly with their elected officials around the issue of family homelessness.

Stay tuned for updates on the Advocacy Team's work throughout the year!

Support Families Experiencing Homelessness

Interested in learning more about our advocacy work on preventing family homelessness, or interested in getting involved? Use the form below to contact our Public Policy team: