In a high-cost state like Massachusetts, it is essential that families facing housing instability, homelessness, or those recently rehoused are all able to secure consistent incomes to help support their continued path towards economic independence.
While the Commonwealth boasts some of the highest median household incomes in the country (nearly $80,000 in 2018), it remains a highly unequal state. According to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, the richest 5% of households saw their incomes increase by more than 150% between the 1970’s to the mid 2000’s, while the poorest 20% saw no change at all.
Inequities in Massachusetts extend far beyond household income tiers. A 2015 study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston looked at wealth inequality in the Metro Boston area and found that white households had median household wealth of $250,000, while the median Black family was found to have wealth of $8.
High costs, stagnant incomes, and wealth disparities mean substantial portions of our residents risk falling into homelessness in any given year. Policy action to support the creation of affordable housing remains important to keeping families securely housed, but it is insufficient. For every 100 extremely low-income households in the state, there are fewer than 50 units of affordable housing available. Even when affordable housing is available, families may struggle to afford basics like utilities, food, clothing, and toiletries.
Public policies that promote income maintenance and growth are essential for families facing homelessness or housing insecurity: