State-Funded Resources for Families: Emergency Assistance Shelter, the HomeBASE Short-Term Housing Assistance Program, and Educational Supports

Shelters for Families with Children

If you are experiencing homelessness and have a child under the age of 21 or you are pregnant, you and your family may be eligible for placement in a family shelter. The vast majority of family shelter spaces are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), through their Emergency Assistance (EA) program.

To learn more about how to access EA shelter, follow these links to access the 2019 Emergency Assistance Advocacy Guide from Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), and the June 2014 EA Application Guide for Families from Rosie’s Place and MLRI.

To see if your family meets the income eligibility guidelines for EA and HomeBASE, please see the 2020 income guidelines (PDF) and the image below. The EA and HomeBASE income eligibility standards for applicants are based on 115% of the federal poverty guidelines. For families already in EA, DHCD determines eligibility for ongoing benefits using the standard of 200% FPL.

DHCD Poverty Guidelines 2020

Please note that you must apply for EA shelter through DHCD, and cannot directly access an EA shelter placement by contacting the shelters linked below. For a list of local offices across the state where you can apply, please click here and select the city/town you consider your home community or where you are staying. DHCD is promoting the use of a telephonic application process as the number of in-person application sites has been reduced. To apply by phone, call DHCD’s toll-free number: 1-866-584-0653. If you are unable to get to a DHCD office in person and have problems applying by phone, you can call DHCD’s Central Office at 617-573-1106 to ask for assistance.

*Please also note that these lists may not be comprehensive. If you are a shelter provider and would like to add or update your listing, please email kelly @

Family Shelters in Greater Boston  

Family Shelters in Metro West

Family Shelters in Southeastern Massachusetts

Family Shelters in Central Massachusetts

Family Shelters in Western Massachusetts

Statewide Family Shelter Community Rooms

*Community room shelter spaces are for families who do not qualify for Emergency Assistance shelter through the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Information on the 2012 (FY’13) Emergency Assistance regulation changes (still in effect as of August 2018)

EA data from DHCD: Historical caseload data, FY’11 to the present and sample monthly report

HomeBASE Diversion and Rehousing Assistance for Families with Children 

If you are experiencing homelessness and have a child under the age of 21 or you are pregnant, your family may be eligible for assistance through the Department of Housing and Community Development’s HomeBASE program. HomeBASE funding can be used to help you pay for first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit, an ongoing shallow rent subsidy, etc. 

HomeBASE information from the Department of Housing and Community Development

Education of Children Experiencing Homelessness

To learn more about the educational rights of children and youth experiencing homelessness under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, please download the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education poster pictured below, and click here to see a helpful summary from our colleagues at the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. These rights include rights related to enrollment and transportation. To learn more about our budget campaign related to education transportation for these students, see our FY’19 budget fact sheet. Updated guidance from the U.S. Department of Education can be found here (added July 2016).

MKV Poster1