Author: Shiela Y. Moore

Are We Prepared for the Lifting of the CDC Eviction Moratorium?

As the lifting of pandemic restrictions and rising vaccination rates bring relief to many people, others fear a coming wave of a different kind. State and local agencies, along with housing advocates, are trying to avert a spike in homelessness due to the evictions of families and individuals who have fallen behind on their rent payments. Some shelter providers are also preparing to accommodate a potential increase in demand for space in a system that usually operates at capacity. 


The Massachusetts eviction moratorium imposed during the coronavirus pandemic ended in October 2020 and although the CDC restriction is still in effect, it too will end on July 31st. The Commonwealth provided additional funds in rental assistance (https://www.mass.gov/info-details/emergency-housing-payment-assistance-during-covid-19) and made available other programs of support from the American Rescue Plan Act to help stem this tide. Each of these forms of assistance helps pay back rent or mortgages for income-qualified people so the hope is that increased funding made available to tenants and landlords will stem the tide of an eviction spike. However, no one is sure if these resources are enough. Even before the pandemic, 30% of families experiencing homelessness gave eviction as the reason for needing shelter. The past year has only exacerbated the conditions that lead to homelessness such as job loss, domestic violence, unemployment, childcare, and lack of affordable housing. During the COVID pandemic, many women (estimated to be as many as 3 million nationally) had to leave the workforce due to lack of childcare, thus impeding their ability to stay consistently employed. Rents will continue to go up, even though the pandemic curbed the escalation for a brief period. The demand and competition for housing will rise in late summer as college students return to town. Once someone falls behind in rent payments it is hard to catch up due to continued unemployment, running out of unemployment benefits, and competing demands on income for essential needs like food, transportation, and medical resources.   


Massachusetts Trial Court’s Data & Housing Court Statistics on eviction filings reveal the last wave:

Eviction filings in Massachusetts dropped significantly between January (2,426 filings in trial courts) and April 2020 (218 filings). The Massachusetts eviction moratorium went into effect from April 20th through October 2020. Eviction filings went up to 2,378 for November, followed by 3,057 in December, and 1,918 in January 2021. Tenants worked out payment plans or sought assistance to help with rent, and filings fell to below 1,500 for the past four months. Now, the concern is that eviction filings could move upward again, once the CDC moratorium ends at the end of this month.  
Hopefully, enough is being done to keep more families and individuals from experiencing homelessness.
However, the Household Pulse Survey conducted in June by the U.S. Census Bureau reports that about 3.2 million people say they will be evicted within the next two months.
The survey is issued bi-monthly and measures the economic impact of coronavirus on Americans, including housing and employment. The end of June report indicates that of the nearly 53 million surveyed, almost 8 million people nationwide reported being behind in their rent.  In Massachusetts, 94,292 households reported being behind in their rent. The largest group in Massachusetts who owe back rent are between the ages of 40-54, representing over 37,000 households. Another 20,000 respondents ages 25-39 are behind in their payments in our state.
Females, Blacks, and Latinx households are more likely to be behind and at risk for eviction. Of the 94,292 Massachusetts respondents who reported being behind in their rent, 51% were people of color and 53% were female.
One hopes the eviction wave does not materialize, but Hildebrand is preparing to expand its capacity in preparation for the increased need for shelter that may come in the second half of this year. This summer we will open additional units of emergency shelter exclusively for displaced Boston families, in partnership with Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and a few other providers are expected to do the same. Hildebrand will accept referrals directly from Boston’s Homeless Continuum of Care (CoC) and will provide shelter, housing search assistance, and stabilization support to families well after they leave.  

We hope it will not be needed.

Back to School 2021

From kindergarten to 12th grade – boys and girls ages 5-18 – students with special needs and those without – all will be connected to an appropriate academic environment and be ready to learn. And we need your support, to make sure that these children, and their families, have the resources they need to learn and grow and thrive.

Now, more than ever, your contribution to support 2021’s “Back to School” will have an important impact on making each and every child’s educational process meaningful. Whatever they need – clothing, computers, backpacks, school supplies – we provide. Please visit https://liamsloveschoolsupply.bluschoolsupplies.com/ to see what items are in demand this year. Or make a financial donation to help us meet the unique needs of this year’s  “Back to School” here.

Who are the People Who Are Hurting?

I often wonder what people mean when they say, “People are hurting.” The expression is usually mentioned as a reference to the economic conditions people have been experiencing and is informed by your own lived experience or whom you know. The economic conditions of the lowest income families have never been good but became worse over the last year, and Blacks/African Americans have been disproportionately impacted by the economic slowdown because of the fallout of COVID-19. This is reflected in who is now falling into homelessness. At Hildebrand, we have seen this change in the last year in the families we shelter.

Latinos have historically been the largest racial group of families at Hildebrand, constituting 49% of those we served, followed by Blacks/AA 45%, White and all others 6%. By the end of 2020, a shift occurred such that Blacks/African Americans now make up 57.85% of families in our emergency shelter program, more than all others combined, as Hispanic families dropped to 25%. This also outpaces the 2019 HUD Point in Time nationwide survey that reflected Blacks/AA families experiencing homelessness were 52% of all racial groups. This is alarming when put in a larger context: Blacks/AA only make up 6% of the population in Boston and 13% nationwide. This downward spiral toward emergency shelter is fueled by the Massachusetts unemployment rate still hovering around 10% for Blacks/AA in Massachusetts, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (it was 10.2% in February 2021).

In “normal” years, 44% of Hildebrand heads of households are employed. However, in 2020 it dropped to 31% with an average income of $12,000Although not a panacea for the disparities that Blacks, indigenous, and other people of color (BIPOC) face, there is a ray of hope for strengthening the pathway to self-sufficiency for low-income families, provided by the new American Rescue Plan.

The employment and income changes that continue to drive families into homelessness make the implementation of the American Rescue Plan essential. President Joe Biden just signed into law the $1.9 trillion plan that is getting attention primarily because it will deliver $1,400 stimulus checks for many households. However, long after the checks have been spent or saved and then forgotten, it will be the lesser-discussed aspects of the Plan that should have the longer-range impact. At Hildebrand, we are excited about these aspects of the plan because they support our families moving toward economic stability.

The American Rescue Plan has many layers targeted at low-income households. The two biggest items that will bring improvements are the child tax credit (CTC) and the earned income tax credit (EITC). They will help 4.1 million of the country’s 11 million impoverished children. In Massachusetts households, 1.1 million children will be helped by these tax breaks for low-and moderate-income families. Here are some specific ways the American Rescue Plan will help low- and moderate-income families:

  • The CTC will increase the tax credit for 2021 from $2,000 to $3,000.
  • The CTC be refundable so even if there is no tax liability in 2021, the credit itself will be paid to the taxpayer as a refund. In the past, since most low-income families did not have tax liabilities, they were not eligible, up to a maximum of $1,400. 
  • The American Rescue Plan directs the IRS to make advance payments of the CTC in monthly installments, starting in July, so families do not have to wait until next year to be issued the refund in one lump sum. 
  • Children 17 years of age are now included. There will be a tax break of $3,600/child for those under 6 years of age; $3,000 for those ages 6-17 years.
  • The EITC provides a credit of $543-$1,503 to those of low- and moderate-income.
  • There is $362 million coming to Massachusetts to support emergency rental assistance. Nationwide, over 30% of Black/AA households are behind a month or more in rent, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.
  • Families receiving SNAP (food stamp assistance) get an extra approximate $28 per month. 

The family shelter system in Massachusetts has been an important part of the safety net for the most vulnerable families, and most who enter are considered extremely low income or at 30% of the area median income or lower. Massachusetts could help prevent families from falling into homelessness by following the federal government’s lead.

Massachusetts could help further by following suit on the federal tax credits. Rep. Marjorie Decker has already introduced a bill that that would:

  • Increase the state match rate from 30 to 50% of the federal EITC.
  • Provide a minimum $1,200 credit to extremely low-income and no-income households.
  • Extend income eligibility to include middle-income families (with annual household income up to $75,000).
  • Expand eligibility to previously excluded groups (e.g., unpaid caregivers, immigrants who pay taxes with an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number).
  • Increase the impact of the EITC by expanding access to free tax preparation services and providing more frequent payments.

Every year, 10,000 families in Massachusetts seek emergency shelter; 3,200 families enter shelter when diversion and safety net resources cannot be provided or are not enough. The majority of these people are young children. 

The “people who are hurting” are mostly children from where I sit. We must be willing to help the parents in the process of lifting children out of poverty because that is what breaking the cycle of homelessness requires.

Get out the Vote

Our ancestors are watching because it’s our turn to pay it forward.

I feel the weight of those who fought for my right to vote on my shoulders every time I vote.  It is a heavy weight, built on their sacrifice for my right to do so.  There are so many who advocated, marched, and even died for African Americans’ right to vote, and no sacrifice was greater than Medgar Evers.

Medgar Evers was born in Decatur, Mississippi in 1925.  He was a World War II veteran who was pressed into advocacy upon his return home.  He and a few fellow Black veterans soon registered to vote in their hometown but were turned away and denied access to the polls by local White citizens.  He turned his anger into advocacy when he became the filed secretary for the Jackson, Mississippi NAACP where, for eight years, he led the fight for civil rights long denied to Blacks in his state.  On the morning of June 12, 1963, he returned home from a meeting with civil rights attorneys. His three young children announced to their mother that his dad had returned home. As Medgar exited his car, rifle shots were fired striking him. Medgar stumbled toward his house where he was met by his wife, Myrlie. He was taken to the local hospital where he was at first refused admission because he was Black. His wife pleaded for assistance, finally imploring the hospital to help him given his status in the NAACP. He was the first Black person to have ever been admitted to the hospital. He died 50 minutes later. He was 37.

This election is not just about your right to vote.  Civil rights include the right to health care, housing, economic, and social justice.

“I was born in Decatur, was raised there, but never in my life was   permitted to vote there.” –Medgar Evers

Your ancestors are calling. Pay it forward.  Vote. 

Shiela Y. Moore

Two small children.

Message From Our CEO, Shiela Y. Moore

Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center represents the lived experience of the disenfranchised, and the fight for equality. We stand with Black Lives Matter, aligned in our commitment to improve the lives of those we serve and dismantle systemic racism, a contributing factor to homelessness.

The fight to end homelessness is inexplicably tied to social, racial and economic justice. As sad and angry as we are about the death of George Floyd and many others, we are aware that communities of color face many forms of violence. Homelessness is violence; poverty and hunger are violence; over- incarceration, poor education and inadequate health care are all assaults on dignity, respect, opportunity, and humanity that tear at the fabric of family and community.

The ongoing pandemic has also had a devastating and disproportionate impact on communities of color and again, reveals their lack of access to medical care which contributes to poorer health outcomes. Hildebrand staff understands this and has been relentless in their efforts to keep families safe.

Homelessness is a condition that disproportionately effects black and brown people. Family homelessness is rooted in race and gender bias, wage inequality, unemployment, displacement (usually caused by gentrification or domestic violence), and housing discrimination and lack of affordability. Ninety percent of the families we serve are people of color who are Black and Latinx. We are in tough times and yet, times have always been tough for those we support. They have always faced an overwhelming confluence of issues, and Hildebrand has been the haven where families come to recover from the trauma brought on by each of these dehumanizing encounters.

Everywhere one looks there is a system that must be fixed, but now we find ourselves less alone in this fight. Recent events not only exposed racial injustices but, for us at Hildebrand, also illuminated the fact that we have always supported the most disenfranchised people, and that the organization itself was born from similar experiences. It is because Blacks were denied the ability to worship in white churches that led to the founding of African Methodist Episcopal movement in the 19th century and the opening of St. Paul Church in Cambridge, which in turn founded Hildebrand. We exist because the Black community is resilient, resourceful and empathic; these qualities are at the core of our work. We exist to improve the conditions that lead to family homelessness. It is our collective lived experience. We are keenly aware of our legacy and proud of Hildebrand’s place in history.

Hildebrand’s history is the foundation upon which we build brighter futures for families experiencing homelessness. We are committed – now more than ever – to continue working with, and on behalf of, vulnerable families in the fight for justice and equality. Hildebrand was born out of African Americans’ response to discrimination and inequality. Our work matters. Black Lives Matter.

Letter from the Chief Executive Officer

Dear Friends,

We envision a community in which every family has a home.

I am honored to be leading an organization that provides such essential services to families experiencing homelessness. This is my first annual report so this message encompasses my reflection on the past three years. I joined Hildebrand in 2013, and we have been solely focused on transitions, planning, program expansion, and infrastructure building – all in the midst of what was termed a crisis in homelessness.

In 2013, Massachusetts experienced an 8 percent increase in the number of families in shelter as many factors converged to throw a record number of families into homelessness, including Boston’s high cost of living, and lack of affordable housing. I am proud of how Hildebrand rallied to respond to the increasing need for emergency shelter, and we expanded from 99 to 126 units, as over 4,000 homeless families were taken into emergency shelters across the state.

Over the past three years, we never took our eyes off the vision that every family has a home, and we re-examined our unique role in that process. To that end, we clarified the mission, and committed to a strategic direction of expanding intervention and prevention programs. The result of this work was the addition of three units of permanent housing last year, and continued efforts to grow the portfolio beyond its current eleven units. The organization made significant investments in the infrastructure as the number of staff increased from 30 to 60 employees, primarily due to the expansion of congregate living programs because families have far better outcomes with that model. Hildebrand’s congregate living programs now support 53 families who receive 24/7 on-site case management. Another 73 families reside in scattered site locations throughout the Metro Boston region. We also created a special fund (HAND Up) to eliminate one of the most significant barriers to securing permanent housing—payment of initial rents, security deposits, utility arrearage, etc. This effort helped yield placement for 73 families in 2015.

Lastly, we redesigned the website and heightened our social media presence to more effectively connect with those who support of our work. You may have noticed the new logo as well. The arrow in the “H” symbolizes continued upward movement toward ending family homelessness. Someday our vision of a community in which every family has a home will be realized, but in the meantime, it reflects the interventions (e.g. shelter) we provide until that day comes.

Check out our 2015 Annual Report to see more of the important work we do at Hildebrand.

Do you want to help support Hildebrand?

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614 Massachusetts Avenue
Third Floor
Cambridge, MA 02139

Ph: 617-491-5752
F: 617-491-2385
Email: info@hild-selfhelp.org

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Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, Inc. partners with families experiencing homelessness. We provide shelter, permanent housing, work readiness programs, and life skill development. We restore hope and build brighter futures.