In response to the unprecedented volume of applications for emergency rental assistance, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has announced changes to improve the RAFT and Emergency Mortgage and Rental Assistance (ERMA) programs.
For RAFT, DHCD is increasing the maximum benefit to $10,000 for all approved applicants, not just renters affected by COVID-19. This "one-pot" of funds should make it easier for agencies to administer. It will also make the maximum benefit available for both renters and homeowners and allow the $10,000 to be used more flexibly, including to maintain housing or secure new housing.
Also for RAFT, DHCD is removing the sustainability requirement. This means households will be eligible for RAFT as long as the benefit of up to $10,000 will solve the presenting housing crisis – such as an eviction or notice to quit. The 6-month housing commitment by the landlord is no longer required to access the $10,000 maximum benefit.
For ERMA, DHCD announced that effective as of January 12, 2021, the maximum benefit for ERMA is being increased from $4,000 to $10,000 within any 12-month period. Households may not receive more than $10,000 of RAFT or ERMA combined assistance within a 12-month period.
Finally, DHCD is coordinating a Rental Assistance Processing Center to help review and process backlogged RAFT applications to accelerate payments to those facing a housing crisis. The Processing Center will complement and support the work of the current RAFT administering agencies. Metro Housing|Boston and Way Finders in Springfield, will be first to use the Processing Center, with the possibility of expanding to additional regions.