Action Alert: Ask Your State Legislators to Expand RAFT - the State's Emergency Housing Assistance Program

The need for housing assistance is growing as residents are losing income and jobs and are not able to make rent and mortgage payments. With the eviction and foreclosure moratorium, the housing payments can be paused but rents and mortgages will still need to be paid. CHAPA sent a letter to the Legislature asking for a $50 million emergency appropriation to expand RAFT. With adequate resources for housing assistance, we can help prevent a wave of potential evictions and foreclosure after the emergency ends.

RAFT is a proven effective state housing assistance program for very low-income families and individuals experiencing a housing crisis. RAFT currently allows households earning at or below 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI), regardless of immigration status, to apply for up to $4,000 in assistance that can be used flexibly to meet expenses that include rent, mortgage, utility, or condo fee arrears; security deposits; first and last months’ rent; childcare; transportation; or moving expenses. 

Following the outbreak of the pandemic, the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts reports that the statewide network of Housing Consumer Education Centers that administer RAFT have already seen a 200–400% spike in calls for housing assistance.

CHAPA urges the Legislature to expand RAFT with a $50 million emergency appropriation and program changes to help maximize RAFT benefits. This can help support renters, homeowners, and landlords and to preserve and expand the state’s affordable housing stock to make sure everyone in the Commonwealth has a safe, healthy, and affordable place to call home.

Specifically, CHAPA respectfully asks the Legislature to:

  • Provide an emergency appropriation of $50 million in new funding for RAFT, either as part of an FY2020 supplemental budget or as part of the FY2021 budget;
  • Increase allowable assistance from $4,000 to $10,000 per household;
  • Allow households to apply for RAFT, even if they have received RAFT payments in the past 12 months; and
  • Temporarily expand access to the program across a wider range of incomes, allowing households at or below 30% AMI and up to 80% AMI to receive assistance to pay rent, mortgages, and other housing-related expenses.

Please reach out to your State Representative and State Senator and ask them to support the budget request of $50 million for RAFT.  Find your legislators and reach out to them via email.

You can use the following message:

Thanks to the Legislature for passing the Eviction and Foreclosure moratorium with comprehensive protections for renters and homeowners. However, the moratorium does not cancel the missed rent or mortgage payments. Residents, especially those with the lowest incomes, will need both time and assistance in making their housing payments when the moratorium is lifted.

I am contacting you to request your support for appropriating $50 million for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program in order to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by ensuring housing stability for vulnerable residents and preventing the further spread of the virus. Please support $50 million appropriation for RAFT along with the following changes:

  • Increase allowable assistance from $4,000 to $10,000 per household;
  • Allow households to apply for RAFT, even if they have receive RAFT payments in the past 12 months; and
  • Temporarily expand access to the program across a wider range of incomes, allowing households at or below 30% of the Area Median Income (AMI) and up to 80% AMI to receive assistance to pay rent, mortgages, and other housing-related expenses.

This will help residents facing financial hardship avoid displacement, prevent landlords from being unable to pay their mortgages or other expenses, stabilize the housing ecosystem, and support our communities in Massachusetts. Thank you! 

As always, thank you for your advocacy!