What is a Basic Need?

Friday, August 14, 2020

At Catholic Charities of Boston, we function as a safety net for those most in need in our communities, providing a broad spectrum of services so people have access to life’s basic necessities. Basic needs are the most basic goods and services necessary for a minimum standard of living.

Our Basic Needs program is often the first point of entry for clients into our system of programs and services, all aimed at guiding people on a journey from crisis, to stability, to self-sufficiency. Current projections show that 1/3 of more of American families face “financial fragility,” and the effects of COVID-19 will significantly compound this number.  Our basic needs program exists to help these families who are facing financial fragility, no matter the reason.

Basic Needs services include:

  • Food and shelter
  • Rent and mortgage assistance
  • Heat and utility assistance
  • Personal essentials (hygiene items,
  • diapers, supplies)
  • Seasonal and holiday assistance
  • Resources and referrals


Over 120,000 of our community members received basic needs support last year. Our food pantries distributed over 2.5 million lbs. of food, a number that will be significantly higher this year due to COVID-19. In 2019, we provided 6,500 bed nights to individuals in our shelters, and 424 families enrolled in our Homelessness Prevention Services.  We also assisted over 1,300 individuals assisted with rent, mortgage and utilities and served 13,000 during the holiday season with meals and gifts.

None of this would be possible without the support of our generous donors, compassionate volunteers and dedicated community partners who help us meet our neighbors’ most basic needs each day.

To make a donation in support of our basic needs program, kindly click the button below. Thank you for your support!


If you are in need of a basic needs service, please call our basic needs hotline at 617-506-6628 or email Basic_Needs@ccab.org.