05 Aug Newton TAB: With eviction moratorium’s end, Newton volunteers help vulnerable apply for rental aid
August 2, 2021
Newton volunteers are ready to help those who owe back rent due to COVID, now that the eviction moratorium imposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expired on July 31.
CAN-DO (Citizens for Affordable Housing in Newton Development Organization, Inc.) coordinated training for 20 volunteers who on Aug. 7, will walk people through the somewhat complicated application process to access funds, said Josephine McNeil of the nonprofit.
“I know of one Newton resident who is struggling because COVID hit just as she was [about] to take an administrative job,” said volunteer Kate Carpenter Bernier. “The hiring process was stopped and this person took on [another job] to pay the bills. The job process has restarted, but she doesn’t yet have a full-time job.
“We know people have been hit hard by COVID, but we don’t necessarily think that it’s happening here in Newton,” said Bernier. “I appreciate CAN-DO for bringing it to our attention and for giving us a relatively easy way to help our neighbors stay in Newton.”
The training was conducted by Metro Housing Boston (MHB), which is administering rental and mortgage assistance on behalf of the state in numerous area towns and cities.
“There are many families who are behind on their rent and mortgages due to COVID,” said Christopher Norris, executive director of the nonprofit organization.
Norris, McNeil and other housing advocates want people to be aware of the millions of dollars in federal COVID rental assistance funds that are available.
Norris acknowledged that “People still find [the application] challenging,” which is why CAN-DO asked MHB to conduct the training.
Those who earn less than 80 percent of the area median income and were impacted by COVID (lost their job, had a reduction in hours, had to care for someone who was sick, etc.) would qualify for this rental assistance, said Norris.
The Department of Housing and Community Development processed over 18,000 applications for rental or mortgage assistance between the end of May and mid-July, according to data shared with State House News Service.
Of those applications, 48 percent were approved, 45 percent timed out because an applicant did not complete the application, and 7 percent were denied. The spokesperson said the department estimates about 80 percent of applications are submitted incomplete, which is why the Newton training program is so important.
Data from Homes for All Massachusetts, an advocacy organization, note that denials can occur as a result of incomplete documentation, property owners unwilling to participate in the process, or if the tenant is over the income eligibility, according to State House News Service.
State House News Service reporting was used in this story.
CAN-DO’s application help event will take place on Saturday, Aug. 7, at Brigham House, 20 Hartford St. in Newton Highlands from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.newtoncando.org/, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 617-527-5071.
For more information on Metro Housing Boston, visit https://www.metrohousingboston.org/