Aligning Values and Actions to Prevent Homelessness

On June 26, a week before his one-year anniversary at CJP, Rabbi Marc Baker enjoyed one of his proudest moments as President and CEO. At Brockton City Hall, he joined elected officials — along with United Way, Bank of America, and Father Bill’s & Mainspring — to announce a historic partnership that prevents families in crisis from becoming homeless.

Together with our partners, we are funding a South Shore expansion of HomeStart’s Renew Collaborative: an initiative that provides case management and advocacy services, financial assistance, and stabilization efforts to residents facing eviction. In the last decade, this initiative has prevented more than 2,000 evictions in Greater Boston, and in the four years after intervention, only 5% of HomeStart clients have been evicted for nonpayment of rent.

“In the Jewish tradition, it is not enough for us just to take care of our own,” said Rabbi Baker. “We are called to be a community that is engaged with our broader society and the world, bringing our values to bear on the problems and challenges we all face, and working for the dignity and well-being of every human being.”

HomeStart’s Renew Collaborative is unique in that it benefits both renters and landlords. It keeps people in their homes, pays housing authorities and property owners rent that is owed to them, and cuts down on costly eviction expenses. Clients receive support for a full year to ensure they gain stability after the initial crisis has abated. And by lowering the number of people in emergency shelters, hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars are saved each year.

The Renew Collaborative is an effective, economically sustainable model — one that HomeStart wants to scale for statewide, and eventually nationwide, replication. The South Shore expansion is a big step toward realizing that goal, bringing case management services to low-income families in Brockton, Fall River, and Quincy.

“Addressing the eviction crisis is one of the most important ways we can work to keep communities whole. It is a moral and spiritual imperative that we act,” Rabbi Baker said. “No one organization can or should do this alone, but by working together — city and town officials, faith communities, agencies, nonprofits, landlords, and others — we are taking the first step toward making sure everyone in our communities has a safe, stable, and secure place to call home.”