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!

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.

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

2020 Back to School Campaign

This year, “back to school” means something very different to students of all ages than it did last September. The COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking havoc on planning – summer plans changed; jobs changed; child care changed; grocery shopping changed; socializing and getting together changed. So much change! Not much looks the same right now as it did a year ago. But there are still things that haven’t changed, and that you can still rely on! And Hildebrand’s connection to children and families is top of that list. Hildebrand has always had a strong commitment to each and every school-age child in our programs that they will be prepared for school, ready to learn, and connected to education. Everyone is still waiting to see what “back to school” means: virtual? In-classroom? A hybrid of both? Of the 224 children currently in shelter at Hildebrand, 87 are ages 5-12 and 47 are ages 13-17. There are also 90 children ages 0-4, and 14 ages 18-24. And Hildebrand provides resources for each and every one – resources that include clothing, school supplies, backpacks, and whatever else is needed. We make sure that each child has the supplies, resources, and support to fully engage and participate in a learning environment – wherever that may be this September.
Another thing that hasn’t changed? Hildebrand’s appreciation and gratitude for your support during these challenging and transitional times. Hildebrand relies on the generosity of donors – like you – who provide financial support for important resources for the homeless families in our shelters and program. Education is so important to economic stability and self-sufficiency. Your investment in the education of the children at Hildebrand is an investment in their futures, and we are so grateful for your contribution. So please take a moment today to click on the link below, make a contribution to Hildebrand’s 2020 “Back to School” Drive! We look forward to keeping you updated on the impact of your donation, and to sharing stories about how this new education experience works with our children.

Do you want to help support Hildebrand?


614 Massachusetts Avenue
Third Floor
Cambridge, MA 02139
Ph: 617-491-5752
F: 617-491-2385

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