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When rock bottom isn’t low enough (Boston Globe)

Below is an excerpt from an article published by the Boston Globe on December 9 revealing the drastic measures Erica Buckley and many more at-risk residents went through to navigate the emergency shelter system in Massachusetts. Greater Boston Legal Services’ Sarah Rosenkrantz and Elizabeth Alfred are mentioned. 


REVERE — Rock bottom wasn’t low enough.

Erica Buckley’s family was homeless. She had no income and had exhausted the last of her savings, as well as all the help her family could give. She and her two children had been living in hotel rooms for a year. Moving into her car, which could be repossessed at any minute, wasn’t an option. But even with all that, her family did not qualify for emergency shelter in our right to shelter state.

To do that, Buckley would have to liquidate most of her meager retirement savings, too.

The state denies emergency shelter to any family with more than $5,000 in assets — including in a 401(k). Buckley’s retirement account contained $13,310.49 as of mid-October. To qualify for shelter, she would have to take out some $8,000, pay the 10 percent early-withdrawal penalty, and spend it down, presumably to buy more nights in the small, unsustainable hotel room she shared with Ricardo, 14, Jaylene, 3, and Ricardo’s service dog, Drako.

And for what? She would only be right back in this exact same, desperate spot in a month or two. Buckley, 32, had lost so much already. She just couldn’t let this slender vestige of her old, stable life go, too. Why ever should she have to?

Read more at the Boston Globe.