Dorchester Reporter: Report: Dot tenants received $7.9m in rental help in FY23

Rental assistance aid totaling $7.9 million went to 1,604 Dorchester households in the last fiscal year, according to the agency that administers the program. That’s the largest share in the region, according to MetroHousing, which reported that 8,368 received $44 million through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program in Fiscal Year 2023.

The homelessness prevention program is funded by the state’s Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities. MetroHousing, which has tracked the spending over the last decade, noted that RAFT saw significant growth driven by federal funding through the pandemic, followed by a contraction as federal resources were depleted.

In FY23, Metro Housing’s relationships with local community-based organizations continued to provide an invaluable resource for families, according to the report, which named Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD) and Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID) as two key Dorchester partners.

Other findings:

•Rental arrears remained the largest category for RAFT assistance, at 80 percent of the total amount of payments. This was four times the total of all the other types combined.

•The average per-household assistance was $5,293 in FY23.

•A streamlined application process resulted in faster turnaround times for assistance.

•Black/African American households represented the highest group receiving assistance at 35 percent.

•Dorchester was the most highly served Boston neighborhood at 19 percent of total grants.

“The data in this report shows the need for a more sustainable solution, from additional rental assistance vouchers, and the production of below-market-rate housing to the critical shortage of affordable housing in the metro Boston area,” said Chris Norris, executive director of Metro Housing|Boston.

“RAFT has been a lifeline for thousands of households over the years, and its importance cannot be overstated. However, until more permanent, viable solutions are identified and implemented, a safety net for those most at risk of homelessness needs to be dependably and heavily funded.”

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