On June 30, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a new $20 million, statewide fund to assist low-income households facing difficulty making rent and mortgage payments. The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program will provide direct funding to eligible households who have suffered financial hardship during the State of Emergency put in place to combat the spread of COVID-19.
ERMA will expand eligibility for rental and mortgage assistance to more low-income households who have been impacted by the crisis by adjusting the income threshold beyond the state’s traditional Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program. This includes households within the 50-80% range of Area Median Income (AMI). Like the RAFT program, ERMA will provide up to $4,000 for eligible households to pay rent or mortgage payments in arrears going back to payments due April 1, 2020. Beginning July 1, applicants can reach out to the eleven agencies that administer RAFT on the state’s behalf, this includes the nine Housing Consumer Education Centers, as well as LHAND and the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance.
Funding for the new program includes $10 million from the supplemental Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) fund, part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), $5 million from federal Tenant Based Rental Assistance, and $5 million from Moving To Work funding. The new program will serve twice as many households as the traditional RAFT program by greatly expanding eligibility to families who would otherwise not qualify for RAFT.