School of Professional Studies


Robyn Kennedy

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Administration (MPA)


School of Professional Studies

Chief Instructor

Mary Piecewicz


Massachusetts is a right to shelter state for families who experience homelessness. Based on decisions made several decades ago, the state assigned the response to families who experience homelessness to the Department of Welfare (now the Department of Transitional Assistance) and a shelter, rather than a housing response was adopted. Following national best practice, the state has decided to transition the system to a Housing First response. Through this research, I will be evaluating the trends in the industry and assessing what Massachusetts needs to do to achieve a Housing First approach to serving families who are experiencing homelessness. Unless the system is shifted to a Housing First response, the state will continue to only serve families once they have exhausted all their resources and assets, Research into what Massachusetts has done to reform the system to date will set the stage for this proposal to accomplish the goal of moving to Housing First. In addition, in order to move to a more effective and efficient system, the state needs to understand who and what forces stand as barriers to implementation and how to work with those entities to move forward with reform. The research and recommendations included in this project will not only demonstrate the effectiveness of a Housing First Model but will make the case for Massachusetts implementing this strategy. Moving to this model will not only better serve families across the Commonwealth but will create cost efficiencies for the state budget.



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