Reports Show High Numbers of Assistance Denials
For Immediate Release: June 24, 2021
Contact: Peter Jasinski | email@example.com
BOSTON — With financial hardship continuing to be a persistent side effect of the ongoing pandemic, Massachusetts renters and landlords are both being urged to pursue forms of financial relief currently available to them through the state government.
“Despite the glimmers of hope we’ve seen in recent weeks, the pandemic has continued to cause uncertainty and financial instability for Massachusetts renters and property owners,” said Senator John F. Keenan (D-Quincy), who serves as the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. “Based on conversations my office has had with advocates, landlords, and tenants, the greatest challenge we face is getting the available financial assistance into the hands of those who need it.”
“Though the pandemic has waned in recent weeks and some sense of normalcy is slowly returning to the Commonwealth, we must continue to support and find ways to help those in need of housing and rental assistance,” said State Representative James Arciero (D-Westford), who serves as House Chair of the Joint Committee on Housing. “There are many programs and resources readily available for those in need and to assist tenants, landlords and homeowners who are struggling financially to secure stable housing.”
Last October, the Commonwealth ended its moratorium on COVID-related evictions and foreclosures, and since then has committed over $500 million to help residents facing eviction or foreclosure. As of this May, the Baker-Polito administration reported that $119.3 million in rental assistance has been distributed among nearly 25,000 Massachusetts households.
“There is money available for tenants, landlords and homeowners,” said Keenan, “so we urge all those facing housing hardships to take advantage of these programs.”
From the federal government, the Commonwealth received $437 million for housing assistance with the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020, and it received an additional $360M through the American Rescue Plan Act in March.
Despite the plentiful amount of funding available, and the continued voiced need of financial assistance by all parties, data from the Department of Housing and Community Development shows applicants are being denied due to incomplete documentation and property owners being unwilling to participate. Ensuring that all parties are informed of the documentation needed to proceed is critical to addressing this financial barrier to housing.
Landlords who own up to 20 rental properties are eligible to apply directly for rental assistance on behalf of tenants who qualify for benefits.
Residents interested in seeking financial assistance can apply through the state’s Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT), Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance program (ERMA), and are urged to contact their regional housing agencies for eligibility information granted to an applicant varies among programs.
When submitting an application, renters and landlords must be able to submit the following:
- I.D. for the rental property’s Head of Household with full name and date of birth (for example: state issued driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport)
- Proof of renter’s current housing (for example: a lease, tenancy agreement, or tenancy at-will form)
- Verification of housing crisis, such as notice of arrears or balance overdue, court summons, notice to quit, notice of eviction, or a letter from host if doubled up
- Verification of income
Landlords are also required to provide the following materials for applications:
- W-9 for property owner or authorized agent of the property owner
- Proof of ownership of the housing unit
ERAP applicants are additionally required to provide a statement attesting to unemployment, decreased wages, or increased expenses due to COVID-19. If approved, renters are eligible for up to 12 months of rental arrears, plus an extra three months if funding allows and need is demonstrated. Applicants can only apply for assistance with expenses accrued since March 13, 2020.
RAFT applicants are eligible for as much as $10,000 in assistance that can be put toward rent or mortgage arrears or security deposits. If unable to qualify for RAFT benefits, renters and property owners are encouraged to apply through ERMA. Like RAFT, ERMA recipients can receive up to $10,000 in financial assistance with rent or mortgage arrears accrued after April 1, 2020, or with upcoming rent or mortgage payments.
Residents that are currently homeless or believe they are on the immediate verge of homelessness are urged to contact their community’s Family Resource Center (FRC) or call (866)-584-0653 to speak with a homeless coordinator.
Regional Housing Agencies:
- Region 1 – Berkshire Housing Development Corp (BHDC) (Berkshire County)
Berkshire Housing Development Corp
1 Fenn Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201
- Region 2 – Community Teamwork, Inc. (CTI) (Lowell/Lawrence area)
Community Teamwork, Inc.
155 Merrimack Street
Lowell, MA 01852
- Region 3 – Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority (FCRHA) (Franklin County)
Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority
241 Millers Falls Road
Turners Falls, MA 01376
(413) 863-9781, x150
- Region 4 – Housing Assistance Corp. (HAC) (Cape Cod & the Islands)
Housing Assistance Corporation
460 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
- Region 5 – Wayfinders Inc.(Hampden, Hampshire & Franklin Counties)
1780 Main Street
Springfield, MA 01103
- Region 6 – Metro Housing Boston (Metro Boston)
Metro Housing Boston
1411 Tremont Street
Boston, MA 02120
- Region 7 – RCAP Solutions (Worcester Area)
RCAP Solutions (formally Rural Housing Improvement, Inc.)
191 May Street
Worcester, MA 01602
- Region 8 – South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc. (SMOC) (Framingham Area)
South Middlesex Opportunity Council, Inc. (SMOC)
7 Bishop Street
Framingham, MA 01702
- Region 9 – Neighbor Works Housing Solutions (South Shore)
Neighbor Works Housing Solutions
169 Summer Street
Kingston, MA 02364
Non RAAs Providing ERAP, ERMA, and RAFT Assistance Only
- Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development (LHAND) (Metro Boston)
39 Curwin Terrace
Lynn, MA 01905
- Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance (CMHA) (Worcester Area)
6 Institute Road
Worcester, MA 01609
(508) 791-7265 x172