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Family Housing & Shelters

Massachusetts is one of the most expensive states for housing and other basic living costs. Our innovative housing solutions foster both collaboration and independence, which helps families gain lasting resilience.

Safe Housing is a Human Right

The shortage of affordable housing is a national crisis. Homeless shelters across the country and here in Springfield, Holyoke, Greenfield, and other nearby cities are often full.

Without stable housing, children often go hungry, experience health issues, and miss out on educational opportunities.

At CHD, we’re committed to ending homelessness in Western Massachusetts. Every year, we help thousands of people with both emergency and long-term housing solutions.

It All Began with Jessie’s House

As one of the first family shelters in Massachusetts, Jessie’s House has served our community for 40 years. It provides struggling families a safe place to call home while we work on skills and strategies that foster self-sufficiency.

Located in a Victorian-era house in Amherst, it serves six families at a time and is full nearly every night. The building is leased from the First Congregational Church, which is our next door neighbor.

As the largest shelter provider in Western Massachusetts, we maintain three different shelter models:

  • Congregate shelters provide each family with their own room. Common spaces such as the kitchen and living room are shared with other families.
  • Co-sheltering is a model where CHD leases and staffs an apartment building. Two families share each apartment within that building.
  • Scattered-site housing places families in apartments throughout the area. This is an outreach model where caseworkers go into the community to work with each family.

Re-housing Program

As families move from shelters into permanent housing, we provide essential support and referrals. Caseworkers empower families to advocate for themselves, manage inevitable bumps in the road, and achieve greater independence.

Along with finding permanent housing, we work hard to keep families from ever entering a shelter. Our diversion team is the first point of contact for Emergency Assistance (EA) eligible families who have no access to housing with relatives, friends, or charitable organizations.

Our total diversion rate in 2019 was 45%. That means nearly half of our eligible EA families didn’t spend a single night in shelter.

We believe this is a testament to the families we serve and the relationships we’ve built over the years. Given the opportunity to succeed, along with people who believe in them, families make positive choices.

Diversion Shelter and Housing

Please call this number for information about programs, services, and more. 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

Making progress against the odds

Shannon has loved horses since she was little, even working on horse farms as an adult. “I want to work with animals again,” she says. “They’re usually a lot more understanding than people.”

After living in other states, Shannon returned to the area to escape domestic violence. “The father of my son was mentally abusive and always put me down,” she recalls. “He hit me when I had Shawn in my belly, so I came back to this area and stayed with a friend. I was doing the best I could, but eventually things didn’t go well.”

Facing homelessness, Shannon was invited to stay at Jessie’s House in Amherst.


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