Best way to end homelessness and its health impact? Prevent evictions

Stock photo of an eviction notice

By American Heart Association News

The cycle of homelessness can have devastating long-term repercussions on health. A nonprofit program in Boston is tackling the problem by trying to avoid evictions.

HomeStart focuses on ending homelessness, in part by preventing it from happening in the first place.

Living in an unstable housing environment can have a devastating impact on health. Life expectancy decreases significantly for people who experience homelessness. Children with a history of homelessness are more likely to have developmental delays and find themselves hospitalized. And once someone is evicted, it increases their risk of facing additional homelessness.

HomeStart tries to stop the cycle.

When a person or family living in subsidized housing faces eviction over rent payments, the organization acts as an intermediary between tenant and landlord. It negotiates and covers a portion of the back rent, and then works to find social services that can help stabilize tenant lives to ensure they can eventually pay off the rest of their debt while staying firmly put in their homes.

“We make an average of a $700 payment to stop the eviction and buy some time. And we work with a family for 12 months and create a blueprint with them to mitigate against the risk of eviction happening again,” said HomeStart president and executive director Matthew Pritchard.

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