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Utilizing a combination of housing and stabilization knowledge, mediation techniques, legal advocacy, and flexible monetary funds, we help high-risk households retain their housing and avoid going to shelters. In 2017, the average rental assistance payment through our Prevention Program was $700, while the average cost to the state for providing emergency shelter is over $30,000 per year.

The Process

Our advocates work one-on-one with low-income, at-risk households to help them stay in their homes and avoid the trauma of homelessness.

HomeStart advocates provide supportive services including

 financial stability 

In housing court, HomeStart negotiates with landlords and pays portion of back rent

Cost Benefits

Not only does Homelessness Prevention save families from the trauma of being evicted, it saves taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.  On average it costs the state of Massachusetts $30,000 to house a family in emergency shelter or a motel for one year.  For just $2,000, HomeStart can halt the eviction, negotiate and pay a portion of back-rent owed, and provide the family with post-crisis stabilization services to help them get back on their feet and pay the rest of their debt.

Cost-Benefit of Eviction Prevention





The tenant and HomeStart Advocate work together to identify the factors that led to the eviction crisis and make an individualized plan to address and eliminate these barriers going forward.



HomeStart advocates negotiate directly with property owners on behalf of the tenant and accompany tenants to Housing Court, working out an agreement that will stop the eviction and preserve the tenancy. When an agreement has been reached to preserve the tenancy, HomeStart makes a payment directly to the property owner toward the back rent owed. The tenant will typically repay the balance of the rental arrearage within 8-12 months.





After the initial crisis has been resolved, HomeStart stays in touch with the tenant for 12 months, with check-in calls at regular intervals and provides information and referrals to other community resources. 






Housing Authority Cost to Execute an Eviction

Private Landlord Cost to Execute an Eviction

HomeStart Cost to Preserve a Tenancy


of Prevention clients remain safe from

eviction for non-payment, even 4 years later

over 400

evictions prevented each year


typical amount owed by a family facing eviction from subsidized housing



Celestina, her husband and their daughter immigrated to Boston from Haiti. Both Celestina and her husband worked and they lived in a public housing apartment where their rent was an affordable percentage of their household income. Celestina's life fell into crisis when her husband abruptly ended his mental health treatment, stopped paying their rent and became physically abusive. A recent immigrant who spoke no English, Celestina was uncertain how to protect herself and her daughter and didn't know what to do when she found out she was being evicted for non-payment of rent. A Renew Collaborative Advocate worked with Celestina to help file a restraining order against her husband, assert her rights as a victim of domestic violence to get more time from the public housing authority to stop the eviction, request a transfer to a new public housing unit to assure her safety and access financial assistance to make a payment toward her back rent owed and resolve the eviction proceedings.


Sam lived in an affordable subsidized apartment and worked as a full-time cab driver until he was involved in a car accident and seriously injured his back. Eventually, he was able to return to work part-time, but struggled to get by on his reduced salary. Even though Sam was only working part-time, he continued to make child support payments that were based on his full-time income. Sam fell behind on his rent and was on the verge of getting evicted from his apartment. A Renew Collaborative Advocate worked with Sam to request that his subsidized rent portion be adjusted all the way back to the date of his injury and connected him with resources that would help him modify his child support payments to reflect his current income. The Renew Collaborative made a payment to Sam's landlord toward his back rent owed and negotiated a repayment agreement for the balance that Sam could afford to keep up with while he continued to recover from his injury.

Prevention Program Community Partners

Bank of America Charitable Foundation

Beacon Communities

Boston Housing Authority

Gerstner Philanthropies

Greater Boston Legal Services

Highland Street Foundation

Oak Foundation

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Winn Residential

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