BOSTON — New York native Paulina Morillo moved to Boston for better opportunities for herself and her young daughters, but soon, Paulina struggled to find work and pay sky-high housing costs. In almost no time, she ended up couch-surfing with friends and families and then sleeping in a car. Paulina was living in a shelter when she was accepted into the Boston Housing Authority’s housing voucher program.
“It provided me a home,” said Morillo. “A stable home. And I was in a program that helped me find a job. That’s what I did. I’ve been working in a daycare. It has changed me tremendously in a very positive way.”
In 2020, the Boston Housing Authority housed 1,000 families, including more than 1,700 kids through their Section 8 voucher program.
But, Massachusetts has the fourth-highest rate of homelessness in the country, according to non-profit Family Aid and the BHA’s David Gleich tells me the need exceeds the program’s capacity.
“We know that nationwide the need far exceeds the available resources that are out there and we know that’s the same in Boston,” said Gleich. “As many families are we can house, we know there’s going to be other families that are going through financial crises or other issues that could make them homeless.”
Family Aid’s Larry Seamans tells me 500 families have received vouchers, about 280 have been housed so far, but 500 families who’ve applied to the program are still teetering on the edge of homelessness.
“We have more families who don’t have enough food to eat to get through the week. Many more families are unable to pay rent. I think we’re encouraged by what is happening at the federal and state level where more resources are coming.“
Seamans says Massachusetts is set to receive $9 billion in federal aid for families, but the most immediate need is landlords willing to accept the vouchers.
”If you have units that are available for families; hardworking families who may have been affected by the pandemic. They now have an opportunity that those landlords are actually getting market rent,“ said Seamans.
Family Aid’s landlord hotline is 857-239-5465 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.