Authors: Amanda L. Benton
March 25, 2014
This paper was written in fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master in Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and with support from the Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. The lowest-earning 20 percent of Americans pay an average of 87 percent of their incomes toward housing costs. Massachusetts’ “right to emergency shelter” for families results in the provision of shelter to approximately 4,400 homeless families each night. As a result, a push is underway to identify new tools to ensure families have an affordable place to call home. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) commissioned this Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) to assess the viability of using “shared housing” to help homeless and at-risk families maintain housing. The author defined shared housing as “any situation in which an agreement formalizes the co-residence of two or more family units within the same housing unit.” Shared housing, unlike doubled up situations, is permanent housing. The paper's key findings and recommendations emerged as a result of the author's interviews with more than 40 individuals.
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