Mission

The Cambridge Housing Assistance Fund (CHAF) is a broad-based community coalition of Realtors, local banks, civic and business leaders and universities, united by the common goal of ending homelessness in Cambridge. Operated by Cambridge Realtors in a public/private partnership with the Cambridge banking community, HomeStart, Inc. and the Cambridge Multi Service Center for the Homeless. CHAF provides a bridge to housing for homeless and near homeless families and individuals in two ways. First, by assisting with the initial costs of renting an apartment (first, last, security deposits, moving costs, etc.) and by providing one-time assistance grants to households at risk of becoming homeless. CHAF acts as a crucial life raft to those who need it most. Recently, HomeStart has placed two advocates at the Cambridge Multi Service Center to better serve the currently homeless and those on the brink of homelessness in Cambridge. And, should a household need assistance getting off the streets or out of a shelter and into permanent housing, they can access the vital support they need to make this happen by meeting with a specialized advocate at HomeStart. Advocates provide a variety of services, such as housing search, coordination with landlords and movers, homelessness prevention, eviction intervention, and stabilization and budget help once the client is housed. This helps break the cycle of homelessness permanently.

Since its inception in 1999, CHAF has raised more than $2.4 million – enough to open doors for more than 2,100 households. And, with follow-up services from CHAF partner HomeStart, 96% of clients remained housed at least one year later. Once homeless, it costs the state approximately $30,000 per year to house a family in emergency shelter. For a $1,250 assistance grant, CHAF can prevent that same family from losing their home. Prevention works!

Read more about Homestart
HomeStart has been dedicated to ending homelessness and changing lives since 1994. Advocates assist homeless people in finding housing and settling into the community, and help those on the verge of homelessness retain their housing. HomeStart also promotes the creation of housing solutions system wide. Founded in 1994, the agency assists about 1,500 families and individuals in Greater Boston a year. HomeStart is committed to achieving results that end homelessness. It has tracked every person the organization has ever served and the housing outcomes achieved. The results: over 5,000 homeless people have been moved to housing, and 96% of those assisted with housing retention are still housed one year later. Nearly 500 low-income neighbors on the verge of eviction are prevented from becoming homeless in the first place. HomeStart’s housing search services are offered at most shelters and other programs serving homeless adults in Boston and Cambridge. HomeStart’s follow-up housing retention services assist people, once housed, to become good tenants, budget their incomes, maintain substance abuse recovery, and more. HomeStart doesn’t just provide services, it also provides housing. It manages a portfolio of 480 government-funded housing subsidies. Some of the most disabled and vulnerable people who were once homeless are today living successfully in housing, with HomeStart subsidies and support services.
Read more about The Cambridge Multi-Service Center for the Homeless

The Cambridge Multi-Service Center for the Homeless helps homeless and near-homeless people from the Cambridge area locate and maintain stable, appropriate housing by providing counseling, home search and stabilization services. The city of Cambridge Department of Human Services Program in collaboration with several other agencies, including HomeStart, Inc., operates the Multi-Service Center.

Programs sponsored by the city of Cambridge at the Center include the Family Housing Search, the Transitional Shelter Program, the Elder/Disabled Housing Assistance Program, Human Services Case Management and the Haitian Services Collaborative.