The Need and Our Impact


When we opened our shelter in 1976, we thought that we’d be able to close in a few short years, having helped the homeless women in Worcester find housing. Unfortunately, the need for a safe place to stay continues to be even greater today.

  • Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) estimates a shortage of 158,769 affordable rental homes for extremely low-income households in Massachusetts (November 2017) according to the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless.
  • On a single night in January 2020, roughly 580,466 people were experiencing homelessness in the United States, according to the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 1 to Congress published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. In 2020, 26.1 in every 10,000 people in Massachusetts were experiencing homelessness.
  • On a single night in January 2020, half of the nation’s homeless people in families with children were in three states: New York, California, and Massachusetts, according to the 2020 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR) Part 1 to Congress published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


Affordable housing is out of reach for those with the lowest incomes.

  • To afford a 1-bedroom rental home at Fair Market Rent making minimum wage ($13.50/hour), you would have to work 87 hours each week in Massachusetts.
  • In Worcester, Massachusetts, Fair Market Rent is $1,134/month for a 1-bedroom unit and $1,450/month for a 2-bedroom unit.

But, the affordable rent for low income households are

  • $702/month for minimum wage workers
  • $741/month for Worcester households at 30% of the area median income
  • $754/month for workers earning the average renter wage in Worcester
  • $273/month for an individual receiving the average Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payment in Worcester

*Housing statistics are from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2020 Out of Reach Report.

At Abby’s. . .

We are dedicated to providing women and their children with shelter, affordable housing, and the support they need to get back on their feet.

The women who arrive on our doorstep come to us from many different circumstances. Some may have just escaped an abusive relationship. Others may have lost their job. Every situation is unique, and every woman has unique needs. Read their stories.

At Abby’s, we rely heavily on the support of the community. This allows us to serve women from many different circumstances, helping each woman meet her individual goals.

Success is different for every woman. For us, success is each step a woman takes towards reaching her goals!

Our Impact

Since we began in 1976, we’ve helped more than 14,000 women and their children reclaim and rebuild their lives.

See how, with your support, we’ve been changing lives for over 40 years.

Our Impact in 2020


The Annette Rafferty Survive to Thrive Fund (ARST)

In 2020, $30,102 was given through ARST to help women meet unexpected and/or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, deal with an emergency, or enhance their quality of life.

Some of the Ways in Which ARST Helps

Costs Related to Transitioning to an ApartmentCosts to Obtain a Birth Certificate & MA Identification CardsCopays - Pay off Medical Bills

Annette Rafferty Women’s Empowerment Center

Women find continued support, camaraderie, and services in our Annette Rafferty Women’s Empowerment Center, located at 52 High Street.

In 2020, we pivoted our services and continued to provide access to health and wellness activities, programs, and workshops – many virtually, and provided women with the tools and resources needed to better their physical and mental well-being.

Thrift Shop

  • 49 vouchers given for free clothing to current and former guests and residents, as well as homeless or low-income women referred to us by our community partners.