26 Jan WWLP 22News: State program assists families at risk of becoming homeless
Massachusetts’ Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, also known as RAFT helps people at risk of being homeless pay for moving costs, rent and utilities.
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RAFT recipients can get up to four thousand dollars a year. To be eligible, they must be homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, and meet income requirements.
“It helps tenants who are low-income and having trouble with their rent meet their rent obligations and stay in the units so it helps people from going into homelessness,” State Rep. Kevin Honan (D-Boston) said.
Dorchester’s Mercedes Jackson was in need of assistance when she was unable to find a job during her pregnancy. Without the program, she said she would not have been able to pay past due rent.
“I would definitely be struggling, probably not able to take my maternity leave that was set to be because I would have no way to pay back rent at the time,” Jackson said.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates there were more than 17,000 homeless people in Massachusetts on a single night last year.
Way Finders in Springfield helps administer RAFT in western Massachusetts. They provide assistance to more than 600 households in Hampden and Hampshire counties, according to Executive Director Peter Gagliardi.
One quarter of their RAFT recipients were evicted from their homes, according the group’s Senior Vice President of Housing Support Services Lauren Voyer.
Housing advocates are urging the state to increase funding for the program to $18 million so they don’t run out of funding.
“We believe that that would be enough statewide to help all of the regional network folks that administer the program to have funding that will last for the entire fiscal year,” Metro Housing Boston Executive Director Chris Norris said.
The Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts plans to release a statewide report on the program in February.