Metro Housing|Boston Partners with Lawyers for Civil Rights on Homelessness Prevention Programs

Demand for Rental Assistance Jumps During COVID-19 Health Crisis

Boston, MA – Metro Housing|Boston and Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) have partnered to help families impacted by the COVID-19 health crisis avoid falling behind in their rent or other expenses that may lead to eviction.

Metro Housing administers both Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rent and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA)  in 29 greater Boston communities. RAFT and ERMA, funded by the Massachusetts legislature through the Department of Housing and Community Development, are homelessness prevention programs for families experiencing housing crises.  These programs allow eligible households to apply for up to $4,000 in assistance that can be used flexibly to meet the expenses often associated with housing instability, eviction, and homelessness.

With support from Metro Housing, Lawyers for Civil Rights has launched a new pro bono initiative to connect those who need help paying rent or other housing expenses with volunteers who can help complete an application for RAFT, ERMA, or the City of Boston’s Rental Relief Fund.

Metro Housing Boston received 3,920 pre-applications for rent relief since Gov. Charlie Baker’s emergency declaration in March. During all of fiscal year 2019, Metro Housing distributed funds to 1,719 households. During the month of June, Metro Housing distributed more than $1,000,000 in support, more than any other month in staff memory.

“There have been so many families faced with a loss of income during this health crisis,” said Felisha Marshall, Director of Housing Supports at Metro Housing. “The demand for rental assistance has surged over the past three months and this partnership with Lawyers for Civil Rights will help more families at risk of losing their housing due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Families are experiencing significant housing insecurity, particularly as the state-wide moratorium on evictions expires in August. Without deeper and expanded housing stabilization and protection, an eviction cascade is inevitable. With Metro Housing’s expertise and technical assistance, we are able to provide free legal assistance to help families stay sheltered during this crisis,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, Executive Director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

A recent survey of 1,500 people by MassINC Polling Group, found that 29 percent of renters missed all or part of a housing payment in April, May, or June. The report says that if the current health and economic crisis continues for another six months, that only 40 percent of people expect to be able to keep up with their housing payments. While 12 percent of property owners reported that they  had missed all or part of a mortgage payment through June, only 61 percent of home-owning poll respondents stated that they were likely to keep up with payments through six months.

For information on RAFT and ERMA, visit


About Metro Housing|Boston

Serving more than 25,000 households annually, Metro Housing|Boston is dedicated to mobilizing wide-ranging resources to provide innovative and personalized services that assist families in avoiding homelessness, maintain housing stability, and achieve economic security. With more than 30 years’ experience piloting and implementing housing programs, it has solidified their position as an industry-leading expert on navigating the affordable housing field. Metro Housing|Boston is committed to making sure that every person in Greater Boston will always have a place to call home. Visit, , or follow on Twitter at @MetroHousingBos.


About Lawyers for Civil Rights

Lawyers for Civil Rights (LCR) fosters equal opportunity and fights discrimination on behalf of people of color and immigrants. We engage in creative and courageous legal action, education, and advocacy in collaboration with law firms and community partners. LCR mobilizes hundreds of attorneys from leading law firms to tackle groundbreaking cases on a pro bono basis. LCR focuses on impact areas that represent the front lines in today’s battle for equality and justice. LCR is headquartered in Boston and represent clients across Massachusetts and surrounding communities—and the impact of their life-changing work ripples across the country. For free housing legal support visit

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