Author: Shiela Y. Moore

The Gulf Between Homeownership and Family Homelessness

We can all agree that keeping a roof over one’s head is more expensive than ever whether you are looking to buy a home or rent, but renters face the most challenges.

At one end of the spectrum are higher-income earners and investors who have been fueling the housing market, as they took advantage of low interest rates and earnings that kept up with, or surpassed, inflation.

Homeowners get to build wealth through equity and it’s been nothing but good news during this most recent housing boom, especially in places like the Boston area.

Now that inflation has taken a foothold in the country, some housing market analysts believe that a cooling off of the hot nationwide housing market is coming, due to rising interest rates, as evidenced by the number of mortgage application cancellations. As mortgage rates have risen, prospective buyers are concerned about needing higher down payments and larger monthly mortgage obligations. According to the real estate firm Redfin, mortgage application cancellations went up to 15% in June.

At the other end of the housing spectrum are those who were formerly homeless and are now looking to transition out of shelter into housing. They are looking to rent apartments, usually 2-bedrooms in the case of families working with Hildebrand. The recently released The State of the Nation’s Housing 2022 report, by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, noted that not only have housing prices continued to rise but that nationally, the rents in professionally-managed properties rose 12% in the first quarter of this year. This has put a strain on Hildebrand’s ability to move families out of shelter and into affordable permanent housing. Concurrently, now that pandemic relief programs have faded and fears of contracting COVID-19 in congregate living are waning, we are seeing the strain on the other end of the housing spectrum – emergency shelter – as more families seeking shelter come to Hildebrand and need us to guide them through realistic housing options.

Although we do have formerly homeless families who are now homeowners, our focus is on those families who are transitioning from shelter and looking for affordable apartments. Even more to the point, most will need to find subsidized housing because heads of households in Hildebrand shelters, working full-time, made an average of $16.79 per hour over the last quarter. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, to afford the fair market rent for a 2-bedroom in Boston in 2021, one would have to pay $2,336 and need to earn $44.92 per hour. This is on par with what the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) established as the fair market rents (FMR) for rental units in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area of $2,339 for 2022. In 2015, HUD set the rent it would pay for a 2-bedroom unit at $1,494. In 2022, it is $2,399. This means that rents jumped over $1,000/month in this 7-year period. This also explains why families at the lowest end of the economic spectrum remain trapped at the bottom of the housing ecosystem: their wages simply cannot keep up with rising rents.

Hildebrand recently purchased an 11-unit building in Dorchester that will double our permanent housing portfolio to 22 units, and keep affordable housing at the forefront of Hildebrand’s efforts to disrupt the systems that lead to poverty and homelessness. This includes even stronger advocacy and raising awareness of the factors that lead to homelessness.

We must remain committed to increasing the supply of affordable housing, expanding supports for families to search for and find permanent, affordable homes, and to do even more to keep families from falling into homelessness. Affordable housing is and should continue to be a primary focus, but so should access to affordable healthcare and mental health services; livable wages; and more easily accessible pathways out of poverty (e.g., through higher education and training programs) and domestic violence. These are key factors that put families on a path to homelessness rather than home ownership, and keep the gulf wide between opportunity and reality.

Hildebrand at Humphreys Celebration Event!

The light showers and cold temperature on Thursday, May 19, could not deter Hildebrand from celebrating its newest affordable housing acquisition, 12 Humphreys Street, Dorchester! This acquisition supports Hildebrand’s mission of providing shelter and permanent housing to families experiencing homelessness and ensures that the apartments in the building remain affordable for residents.

“I’m so excited that these 11 apartments will remain affordable for Boston’s children and families”, said Shiela Y. Moore, Hildebrand’s CEO. “This doubles Hildebrand’s permanent housing ownership and continues to strengthen our supportive network in Boston for families experiencing homelessness. Hildebrand’s vision is every family has a home, and adding 12 Humphreys Street to our real estate portfolio will help us continue to make that vision a reality. Housing insecurity continues to increase in Massachusetts. So Hildebrand’s capacity and impact will also continue to increase, to make sure that each and every family finds shelter, support and – when ready – a home of their own again.”

The celebration was terrific, despite the weather! Speeches from Sheila Dillon, Chief of the Mayor’s Office of Housing, and Sara Barcan from CEDAC inspired and reminded attendees of the importance and impact of Hildebrand’s vision that every family has a home. A very special thank you to everyone celebrated with Hildebrand, especially Hildebrand’s Board and staff whose dedication, support, and advocacy on behalf of the organization and the families served is truly inspiring. Seth Daniel from the Dorchester Reporter came to the celebration; please enjoy his article below!

Homeless families find refuge on Humphreys Street | Dorchester Reporter

Hildebrand Receives the Cradles to Crayons Chairman’s Council Impact Award

At a virtual event on Wednesday, June 1, 2022, national nonprofit Cradles to Crayons® recognized Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center as the recipient of the 2022 Chairman’s Council Impact Award. Cradles to Crayons—the only national organization focused on mitigating Children’s Clothing Insecurity by providing clothing and other essentials at no charge on a large scale—honors one Service Partner each year for excellence in collaboration and programmatic impact. Cradles to Crayons selected Hildebrand in support of their goal to expand their Resource Center program for clients with more consistent and customized interactions with children and families in shelter, ensuring the children and families experiencing homelessness that work with Hildebrand are supported and prepared for all situations.

“We are proud to present this year’s Chairman’s Council Impact Award to Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center,” said Lynn Margherio, Founder and CEO of Cradles to Crayons. “In addition to their well-established housing and self-sufficiency programs, they have increased their focus on supporting families with everyday essentials like clothing and diapers. Community and collaboration are integral components of Hildebrand’s model and exemplify the core values of this award. Service Partners are an essential part of what we do at Cradles to Crayons, and we’re delighted to highlight and support their incredible work. Congratulations, Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center!” 

Lack of access to clothing and other basics can have significant negative short- and long-term impacts on children like delays in emotional and academic development, low self-esteem, health conditions, and more. “Hildebrand is so honored to receive the Chairman’s Council Impact Award from Cradles to Crayons. Our organizations share a commitment to children of families experiencing homelessness, who are living in shelter and are without the essentials that will help them feel comfortable, valued, and ready to move forward,” said Shiela Y. Moore, CEO of Hildebrand. “Whether it’s diapers for a 2-month-old, a new stylish winter coat for a 3rd grader, warm and cozy pajamas for all the children in a family settling into shelter, school supplies for an eager learner, or shorts and tops for a young athlete, Hildebrand and Cradles to Crayons understand the importance of these essential items that many take for granted. The partnership between Hildebrand and Cradles to Crayons helps children in Hildebrand’s shelters stabilize, stay healthy and warm, and find comfort and dignity at such a difficult time in their lives, as they experience homelessness with their parents.” 

Cradles to Crayons supported Hildebrand’s families with nearly 400 packages of additional essentials in the past year. The two organizations will continue to collaborate to ensure that children have the clothing, diapers, hygiene items, and the school suppliesthey need to thrive.

Hildebrand Partners with CHAPA, The Boston Foundation, and United Way to Help Community Residents in Need Receive Financial Assistance

Hildebrand is working in partnership with Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), The Boston Foundation, and United Way on the Neighborhood Emergency Housing Support Program. This pilot program was created to prevent foreclosures, evictions, and homelessness in communities most impacted by the current health and economic crisis by leveraging and supporting community-based organizations and their connections to homeowners and tenants at risk of losing their homes. The goal is to reach residents in need of financial assistance, through extensive community outreach and engagement, and help them submit applications for financial relief to stay in their homes. Madeline Garcia-Gilbert, a Program Manager at Hildebrand, oversees Hildebrand’s outreach and application process. The pilot program operates through June 2022. 

Another Family Moves into a Permanent Home!

Another Family Moves into a Permanent Home

We are so excited to share that yet another family that was in shelter with Hildebrand, at one of the congregate shelters in Cambridge, has gotten their Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) voucher and moved into their permanent home! And – more wonderful news for Hildebrand – the apartment they moved into is owned by Hildebrand. The family will now work with Hildebrand’s Stabilization Services team for the next two years to help them maintain their housing stability. The family has three sons who attend schools in Cambridge so by finding a permanent apartment in  Cambridge, the children will continue their educations without the stress and interruption of re-locating. Many thanks to the Cambridge   Public Schools for helping this to happen also. The father was so happy that he literally jumped for joy! Congrats to the Hildebrand team that worked so hard to make this happen!

Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center Purchases Permanent Supportive Housing

HILDEBRAND FAMILY SELF-HELP CENTER PURCHASES PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING IN DORCHESTER FROM SOJOURNER HOUSE

Organizations work in partnership to maintain affordable housing in Boston

Boston, MA – November 29, 2021 – Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center, Inc. (Hildebrand) has purchased an 11-unit building at 12 Humphreys Street, Dorchester, from Sojourner House. This acquisition supports Hildebrand’s mission of providing shelter and permanent housing to families experiencing homelessness and ensures that the apartments in the building remain affordable for residents. Both organizations are leaders in the movement to end homelessness and provide safe, affordable homes with supportive services to families in crisis, so the partnership is a natural one.

“I’m so excited that Hildebrand’s partnership with Sojourner House has helped our purchase of 12 Humphreys Street and that these 11 apartments will remain affordable for Boston’s children and families”, said Shiela Y. Moore, Hildebrand’s CEO. “This doubles Hildebrand’s permanent housing ownership and continues to strengthen our supportive network in Boston for families experiencing homelessness. Hildebrand’s vision is every family has a home, and adding 12 Humphreys Street to our real estate portfolio will help us continue to make that vision a reality.”

Hildebrand also operates 135 units of shelter for families experiencing homelessness, and last year helped over 1,000 individuals who were experiencing homelessness, over 600 of whom were children. Each family receives case management, supportive services, community resources, and housing search support until they are ready to move out of shelter and into permanent homes. Hildebrand’s Stabilization Services team then continues to work with the family for another two years, to ensure they stay stably housed.

“Housing insecurity continues to increase in Massachusetts”, added Moore, “So Hildebrand’s capacity and impact will also continue to increase, to make sure that each and every family finds shelter, support and – when ready – a home of their own again.” Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center’s mission is to partner with families experiencing homelessness. The organization works to disrupt the cycle of homelessness by providing shelter, permanent housing, training and work readiness programs, and life skills development. Hildebrand restores hope and builds brighter futures, with the vision that every family has a home. Founded in 1988, Hildebrand has been at the forefront of the movement to end family homelessness for 33 years.

Holiday Reflection on Shelter and Housing

This is the time of year when I, along with many in faith and non-faith-based communities, reflect on the human condition, dating back to the birth of Jesus Christ who himself was born in a barn because there was “no room at the inn.”  

Most of us have known the story of “the Savior’s birth” since childhood. We presumed that if there had been room available, his parents, Mary and Joseph, would have surely been able to afford to stay there. As a child, that was as far as my imagination took me in thinking about the family’s circumstance at that moment. It seemed to me that Mary, Joseph and Jesus simply needed temporary shelter during their travels. They were in a temporary, extraordinary circumstance most likely not to be repeated. Children were taught that the moral of the story is to appreciate humble beginnings and to take care of others, especially in their greatest moment of need. What if the need is not so temporary?
For the families supported by Hildebrand, staying in shelter is not quite temporary. It continues for well over a year, on average 15 months. For others, it is not even their first time in shelter. Yet, as a society, we want to move on, believing that life will get better for them. It often does for individual families yet in the grand scheme of the human condition, poverty persists, as does homelessness. Although we are now well beyond the birth of Jesus Christ, we still depend upon each other for many things, including shelter.  
This year, Hildebrand continued to move beyond the provision of shelter. Our strategic objective has been to expand access to permanent housing and we recently purchased an 11-unit apartment building in Dorchester, which doubled our affordable housing capacity to 22. The building (formerly owned by Sojourner House, Inc.) is subsidized with public and private funding from state and local sources, which is what is required if communities are to provide permanent homes to those who cannot afford them on their own.

Similar to families long ago, even if parents are working, there are times when life circumstances bring them to a place where they need help. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, $32,430 is what a family will need to make annually in order not to spend more than 30% of their income on a 2-bedroom apartment. In Boston, it’s higher. In recent years, Hildebrand families made an average of $12.00 an hour and although wages are now on the rise, historically, individuals have found their work hours limited by their employer or because of lack of childcare. All families are paying a portion of their income to housing, but obviously cannot afford housing without help from their community.  

We are not an inn but do provide shelter and affordable housing; Hildebrand’s vision is every family has a home. Our work helps to alleviate some of the challenges in the human condition, and offer help – and hope – along their journey. That is worth reflecting on at this time of year.

Best wishes for a wonderful holiday season.

Another Family Moves into a Permanent Home!

We are so excited to share that yet another family that was in shelter with Hildebrand, at one of the congregate shelters in Cambridge, has gotten their Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) voucher and moved into their permanent home! And – more wonderful news for Hildebrand – the apartment they moved into is owned by Hildebrand. The family will now work with Hildebrand’s Stabilization Services team for the next two years to help them maintain their housing stability. The family has three sons who attend schools in Cambridge so by finding a permanent apartment in  Cambridge, the children will continue their educations without the stress and interruption of re-locating. Many thanks to the Cambridge   Public Schools for helping this to happen also. The father was so happy that he literally jumped for joy! Congrats to the Hildebrand team that worked so hard to make this happen!

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.

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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.