News & Updates
Wednesday, November 22, 2023

United Way of Massachusetts Bay Awards First SafetyNet Shelter Grant to Catholic Charities Boston

United Way of Massachusetts Bay today announced that Catholic Charities Boston is the first organization to be awarded a SafetyNet Shelter grant to provide temporary rooms to families who have an urgent and immediate need. The grant is the first to be awarded from the $5 million SafetyNet Shelter Grant Program announced two weeks ago by the Healey-Driscoll Administration in partnership with the United Way of Massachusetts Bay.

The grant is supporting a SafetyNet site in the Greater Boston area that opened on Tuesday evening and can accommodate up to 30 families, approximately 81 people.

Catholic Charities Boston will provide bedding, meals, staff, and security. The site is available to families who have been determined to be eligible for the state’s Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter program but could not be immediately placed in an EA shelter due to a lack of availability.

“We have seen the many ways that community-based organizations have already stepped up to respond to this crisis and are proud to partner with Catholic Charities and the Healey-Driscoll Administration to provide additional, temporary SafetyNet shelter accommodations and help ensure everyone in Massachusetts has a safe place to stay,” said Bob Giannino, President and CEO at United Way of Massachusetts Bay. “We are continuing to work with our partners in government to offer resources and assistance to community- and faith-based organizations who are eager to offer capacity solutions.”

“It is heartbreaking to see families living with uncertainty of where they will sleep at night – with the arrival of colder weather we are grateful for the Governor and her administration’s leadership and our partners at United Way in activating funds quickly to stand up this emergency shelter plan,” said Kelley Tuthill, President of Catholic Charities Boston. “We are also very grateful to our staff who are working diligently to support the many people in need of care and comfort during these difficult times.”

United Way of Massachusetts Bay released the application for the SafetyNet Shelter Program on November 13th. Last week, United Way led a second information session with over 160 providers and key stakeholders about the grant opportunity.

“Since that time United Way has received several applications as well as inquiries from community groups that are working together to develop a site, and we are continuing to review them with urgency,” said Sarah Bartley, Vice President, Safe and Stable Housing, at United Way of Massachusetts Bay. “The informational sessions we held have generated many conversations with a wide range of property owners, supportive service organizations, and community groups who want to help, and we are encouraging them to apply for the program or connecting them with other ways that they can be of most assistance to families during this time.”

The application for the SafetyNet Shelter grant program that is administered by the United Way is available here. It supports prospective community gathering spaces with restrooms and heat, such as places of worship, community centers, and school buildings, to provide safe space for families to find short-term, congregate shelter, meals and other basic necessities, and linkages to other supportive community resources such as housing programs, public benefits, health services, and mental health supports. Non-congregate models will also be considered.

The flexible program will remain in place through the winter and spring, adapting to conditions, needs, and opportunities that arise. The program aims to flexibly build the capacity of diverse community-based organizations and collaboratives to support families without safe and stable housing, with a particular interest in those with the cultural and linguistic competence and community connections that most contribute to the long-term well-being and community integration of families.

The state will continue to connect families with resources and is prioritizing exits from the system to allow new families to enter.

Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply on their own or in partnership with other volunteer groups, faith-based groups, or organizations in their community. Applicants can apply to expand an existing site or establish a new site. In selecting grantees, UWMB will prioritize CBOs with the following characteristics:

  • Experience in serving low-income, non-English or limited English speaking and historically underserved communities, families and pregnant individuals.
  • Experience in serving populations experiencing homelessness.
  • Ability to conduct outreach to identify individuals and households that qualify for assistance.
  • Organizations or collaboratives that are well supported and already include or are seeking to build connections to relevant resources or services.
  • Sites that offer reliable and adequate amenities including showers, meals, laundry, and other necessities.

Applications will be considered for funding on a rolling basis. EOHLC and UWMB representatives are available to discuss the site selection and application process. For more information, please contact Josh Cuddy, Director of Interagency Coordination at and Sarah Bartley, UWMB Vice President Safe & Stable Housing at

To learn more about Catholic Charities response to the state housing crisis or for ways to help visit our webpage here.

Related Coverage:

Catholic Charities Boston Opens Emergency Shelter for Migrants With State Grant Funding (Globe)

Catholic Charities in Boston Opens SafetyNet Shelter (NBC Boston)

Catholic Charities Boston gets grant to temporarily shelter (WBUR)

Catholic Charities Boston Opens Short-Term Shelter for Migrants, Homeless Families (Herald)

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