On October 12th, Governor Baker announced an Eviction Diversion Initiative, committing $171 million for efforts to prevent evictions as tenants and property owners face financial hardships due to COVID-19. The state eviction moratorium is set to expire on October 17th. The federal eviction moratorium, that has fewer protections and allows eviction processes to move forward, will take effect as the state moratorium expires and will be in place through December 31st. The initiative provides much needed resources to help thousands of households pay the rent and mortgage to keep residents and property owners stable for the next few months.
The Eviction Diversion Initiative includes commits funding for key housing stability programs, including:
- $100 million commitment this fiscal year to expand the capacity of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program to provide relief to renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19.
- RAFT benefit to be raised from $4,000 to $10,000 per household
- Streamlined application process for both the RAFT and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) programs for low to moderate income households;
- Property owners with fewer than 20 units allowed to apply directly for RAFT and ERMA, with consent from tenants.
- $48.7 million to HomeBASE and other rapid rehousing programs for when tenants are evicted and are at risk of homelessness;
- $12.3 million to provide tenants and landlords with access to legal representation and related services prior to and during the eviction process, as well as community mediation to help tenants and landlords resolve cases outside of court;
- $6.5 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs), the “front door” for those facing a housing emergency; and
- $3.8 million for the Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP), to provide case management support and to act as a neutral party to help tenants and landlords come to agreement.
In addition, Mass 2-1-1, a statewide information hotline funded and operated by the United Way, will be a dedicated resource to help tenants access these programs and services. For more information on the Governor’s announcement and to access emergency housing assistance, please visit the state’s website: mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp.
Thanks to the Governor for taking into consideration many of the investments and actions for eviction prevention that CHAPA advocated for with the support of a broad group of housing stakeholders. We will continuing to advocate for additional needed resources and policies at the federal, state, and local levels, to help ensure that no one loses their home during this pandemic.