Eviction Prevention and Utility Arrears
In accordance with the House and Senate budget proposals for FY24, the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) will be implementing a $7,000 maximum benefit limit for new applications effective July 1, 2023.
EOHLC will also implement an administrative policy change at this time, no longer offering future rent payments (“stipends”). This change is being made to allow EOHLC to serve as many unique households as possible over the coming fiscal year.
These changes will be in effect beginning July 1, 2023, for all new applications. There will be a 30-day transition window for this policy to take effect for pending applications. Households who apply prior to July 1 will be able to access program funds at the up to $10,000 benefit limit and a one-month stipend payment so long as their application is approved before August 1, 2023.
Finally, effective July 1, 2023, the RAFT program will again serve homeowners facing homelessness and housing instability by covering mortgage arrears. As previously announced, the Massachusetts Homeowner Assistance Fund will no longer accept new applications after June 30, 2023. Homeowners who are three months or more behind on their mortgage, or who are otherwise at risk of foreclosure or utility shutoff, may apply for RAFT beginning on July 1.
Metro Housing|Boston Administers RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition). It is funded by public contracts and private grants and donations, and helps low-income renters to achieve housing stability and better lives.
For households applying to RAFT for assistance with rent arrears, a notice to quit or eviction notice/court summons is now required. Landlords are required to send a Notice to Quit to a tenant prior to filing for an eviction. A Notice to Quit is NOT an eviction. You do not need to immediately leave your apartment. You are entitled to a legal proceeding in which you can defend against an eviction. ONLY a court order can force you to leave your apartment.
FACING EVICTION? CLICK HERE FOR RESOURCES.
The RAFT program helps keep households in stable housing situations when facing eviction, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. RAFT provides qualifying households with maximum benefit limit of $7,000 per household in a 12-month period. RAFT can cover utilities, moving costs, and overdue rent. Renters or landlords can apply by submitting an online application.
RAFT Letter of Intent
For households that are currently homeless, doubled-up, in a unit that has been deemed unsafe to live in by the Board of Health or other third party provider, or who are being evicted from their current unit and need to move, may submit a RAFT application for a “Letter of Intent” (LOI) – which if approved, a letter will be sent to the applicant stating that they are pre-approved for potential move-in costs (first/last months rent, security deposit, etc.) and can then use this letter to show all potential property owners when touring apartments. The letter will explain to the potential proper owner that the prospective tenant is eligible for move in costs that would be directly paid to the property owner.
Once the applicant has found an apartment, they will need to follow these instructions:
1) Log in to your RAFT online portal account.
2) Click the yellow button “Resume/Track Status” under Application Actions.
3) Once you see your LOI application #, click the three dots on the right of the application and start a new move-in application.
4) You will then complete the application for move-in costs to your new property owner. You will need to input their email address so that they can be prompted to complete their portion once you submit yours.
To learn more about the RAFT program, visit: Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program | Mass.gov
Click below for a step-by-step guide on how to apply for the RAFT program:
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE APPLICATION
Click below to learn more about submitting a complete application, eligibility and required documents.
Please be advised due to the high volume for financial assistance applications, it is now taking four weeks for completed RAFT applications to be fully processed.
Not Submitted – The application as not been completed and fully submitted, please ensure you have submitted all documents and have fully submitted the application/signed all disclosure statements at the end of the application.
Submitted – The application has been completed and is waiting for the other party (tenant or landlord) to complete their application, meaning the two applications have not been matched.
Under Review – Under Review means the tenant and landlord applications have been matched and the complete RAFT application is being processed, there are three steps of the “Under Review”/Processing stage. They are:
Ready for Payment – The Reviewer has approved the file and submitted for payment to be sent out from our payments system within two weeks to the property owner/vendor. An approval notice is sent via email to the property owner/vendor & tenant at the time of approval.
Fully Paid – The awarded payments have been sent out and completed.
Timeout– If the tenant or landlord application is missing documents that are not provided within 10 business days both applications will be timed-out. When an application is timed out the applicant will need to re-apply with a new application. We cannot re-open the case.
Denial- If the tenant application is denied it is due to ineligibility. The applicant has 14 calendar days to submit an appeal including the document that would be able to overturn the decision. If this is not received during this time, the applicant will need to re-apply.
If you are a tenant or an advocate looking for further RAFT status clarification further from the instructions above, please email RAFTstatus@metrohousingboston.org – you will receive a response within 3-5 business days.
You may also call us at 617-425-6700 – we are experiencing longer than usual wait times, and highly encourage sending us an email with your application number and question(s), it is the quickest way to receive a response from us.
Resource Line phone hours of operation: Monday-Thursday – 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM
RAFT Walk-in Hours:
Walk-in Assistance: First come, first serve, up to 30-minute time slots to meet with a RAFT staff member to go over eligibility and/or current RAFT application status update – this is not a RAFT application submission appointment. We do offer Group RAFT Application Submission Sessions (to request, please come in during the above walk-in hours and request to attend a session)
The RAFT application system requires both a tenant application and a landlord application for tenants who are requesting rental assistance.
To begin the landlord/property owner application process, you must first register an account as a new user if you have not already done so here: User Registration (mass.gov)
***Your account must have info entered for the Payee, Properties, and Payment Methods sections on your profile before you can apply.
If your tenant has already completed their application at the time you are submitting the landlord application, be sure to include the 15-digit alphanumeric Tenant Application Code that you received in your email.
For any PROPERTY OWNER PORTAL questions or issues, please contact The RAP Center:
To receive the RAP Center’s call line assistance, please contact 617-544-9330. A staff person will answer your call, take down your assistance request information, investigate the request, and return your call with more information about how to resolve your request. Please note the call line can assist with the following items:
We encourage you to have the following information available when you make the call:
If you should need more support in the meantime, please refer to the below guides from DHCD below:
Summarized PowerPoint Slides for Landlords – https://www.mass.gov/doc/landlord-and-property-manager-intro-to-new-raft-application-portal/download [mass.gov]
Landlord Portal Reference Guide – https://www.mass.gov/doc/landlord-portal-reference-guide/download [mass.gov]
Landlord FAQ – https://www.mass.gov/doc/landlord-faqs-for-emergency-housing-payment-assistance-portal/download
Recorded Landlord Webinar – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ou8nN2fW8pA
For PROPERTY OWNER payment questions on any previous payments made, please reach out to RAFToperations@metrohousingboston.org
DISCRIMINATION AGAINST TENANTS RECEIVING SUBSIDIES BY A LANDLORD IS PROHIBITED
Tenants and Landlords should be aware that Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws prohibits discrimination by a landlord against any tenant receiving federal, state, or local housing subsidies, including rental assistance or rental supplements, because the individual is such a recipient. A landlord’s refusal to accept emergency rental assistance, that covers the entire amount owed to the landlord, may, in some circumstances, constitute a violation of Chapter 151B. Landlords should consult their own legal counsel for advice before declining rental assistance that covers all outstanding rent arrears.
Landlords can begin the application process for their tenants who may need to request financial assistance for overdue rent.
Program funds can be used for housing-related expenses only. Appropriate uses of funds include, but are not limited to: