22 Dec Banker & Tradesman: Significant Delays Acknowledged in COVID Rental Aid Distribution
Source: Banker & Tradesman/SHNS
With new eviction filings on the rise, MetroHousing|Boston said Friday that it is experiencing significant delays processing applications for emergency housing aid and is working to help those in need as quickly as possible.
“We acknowledge that the backlog of applications from prior months, combined with the influx of new applications received, has created longer than usual wait times, resulting in a frustrating and anxious time for families who are at risk of being evicted,” the organization wrote in a post on its website. “We encourage people who have a summary process or a notice to quit to escalate their application by notifying us that they are in the legal process. We also encourage people with a notice to quit or who are in the court process to contact legal services as soon as possible.”
The agency faces an unprecedented level of need: since July, it has distributed $5.1 million in Residential Assistance for Families in Transition funds to 1,800 households, as many households and funds as the entirety of fiscal year 2020. Metro Housing|Boston hired 50 permanent and temporary staff using additional resources the state made available in October, and 1,800 applications for RAFT aid are ready to be assigned to case managers once training is complete. Another 4,500 applications have been submitted without all the necessary documentation, the organization said.
The RAFT program has been the centerpiece of Gov. Charlie Baker’s plan to prevent a large wave of evictions, however both landlord groups and tenant groups say the money allocated is not enough to meet the need and the mediation services critical to helping tenants and landlords work out payment plans or other deals have been slow to get started.
Since Baker allowed a state moratorium on evictions and foreclosures to expire in mid-October, newly filed eviction cases have steadily increased to surpass pre-pandemic levels, though a federal moratorium prevents most evictions from being executed until 2021.