The Massachusetts Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter program is available to help pregnant women and families with children who are homeless. EA is intended to provide temporary emergency shelter and helps families find permanent housing. EA is divided into four separate admission categories: DV risk, homeless due to natural disaster, no-fault eviction (foreclosure), and cases where individuals are living in housing note meant for human habitation.


EA benefits are available to individuals, including:

  • children under age 21 who are experiencing homelessness as well as their families, including parents, stepparents, other close relatives or legal guardians who are primary caretakers of the child/ren, and/ or
  • pregnant people at any stage of pregnancy who are experiencing homelessness, and the pregnant person’s spouse

 To be eligible for Emergency Assistance as an applicant, your family’s gross monthly income must be below 115% of the federal poverty limit for your family size. The federal government usually increases the amount slightly in January or February of each year.


The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), through its Division of Housing Stabilization (DHS), runs the EA program, but DHCD workers are located in some Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) offices and take EA applications there. In addition, DHCD has a telephone line that families can call to apply for EA remotely, if they cannot make it to a local office.

The EA application phone number is 866-584-0653

Advocacy Tips:

  • You should call or go to your local DHCD/DTA office as early in the morning as possible since the application process often takes all day.
  • DHCD should take your application the same day you go to apply. If someone tries to send you away without taking your application and you need a place to stay right away, ask to speak to a DHCD Supervisor or contact an advocate immediately.
  • DHCD should ask you which language you prefer to communicate in when you apply. If they do not ask, tell the DHCD worker your preferred language. If you speak Spanish or another common language, you have the right to receive important documents, including the application, in your language. You have the right to get free oral interpretation from DHCD.
  • DHCD may try to discourage you from applying for EA by suggesting that you stay with friends or relatives. If you have no safe place to go and you appear to meet eligibility rules based on your own statements and other information DHCD has, you have a right to be placed in EA shelter or HomeBASE temporary accommodations right away. See Questions 12 and 13.
  • If you apply for EA but DHCD says you are not eligible, DHCD should give you a written denial notice that explains why you were denied and that you have a right to appeal. See Question 21.
  • DHCD is not taking EA applications at every DTA office. This may violate state law. St. 2009, c. 27, § 142. If this causes a problem for you, contact an advocate.