Demand for RAFT Assistance Jumps During Pandemic

Rent and Mortgage Relief Program Grows Dramatically

Boston, MA – A new report released today by Metro Housing|Boston finds that demand for housing assistance through the Residential Assistance to Families in Transition (RAFT) program has increased 62% in the metro Boston region since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March compared to one year ago.

Separate from the report, Metro Housing also reports that in the first 12 weeks of FY21, nearly 1,100 households impacted by the pandemic received $3.2 million in RAFT support. In FY20, it took nine months to spend a similar amount.

RAFT is a homelessness prevention program for households with very low incomes experiencing a housing crisis. Eligible households may receive up to $4,000 in flexible emergency assistance to retain existing housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid becoming homeless. RAFT is funded through the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and is distributed by 11 regional administering agencies. Metro Housing administers RAFT in Boston and 28 surrounding communities.

The number of households that received RAFT increased by 62 percent between March and August 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Average RAFT payments increased by 19 percent, and total payments increased by 94 percent. The 62 percent increase in RAFT participation is accounted for entirely by market rate households that did not have any form of housing subsidy. There were 813 households without subsidized housing that received RAFT in March through August of 2020, compared to 216 of these households during the same period in 2019.

“The changes in the number and type of households that have received RAFT during the first six months of the pandemic are indicative of an impending housing crisis in our region,” says Chris Norris, Executive Director at Metro Housing|Boston. “There are tens of thousands of renters with extremely low incomes in the metro Boston region that do not have subsidized housing, or any realistic chance of securing housing subsidies soon. These households were somehow able to avoid homelessness prior to the pandemic, but their median income fell drastically during the pandemic, putting them at greater risk of losing their housing.”

The report does share some good news. Households that did receive subsidized housing saw little need for RAFT during the pandemic. Robin Sherman, author of the report, notes that, “This is strong evidence that income supports and subsidized housing, combined with modest emergency housing assistance through RAFT, are highly effective in ensuring housing stability for households with extremely low incomes.”

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.

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