Posted on August 6, 2020
BOSTON --- In an update on local emergency rental assistance programs, the Massachusetts Housing Partnership (MHP) reported today that 83 communities have adopted such programs, up from 48 reported in the initial survey taken during the month of May.
Speaking at a COVID-19 affordable housing response meeting hosted by the Citizens Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), MHP Program Coordinator Katie Bosse said the total amount of local funds pledged is now over $30 million. This is up from $20.8 million that was reported in the initial survey report released in June. Over 50 percent of the funds are from the Community Preservation Act (CPA) or local housing trust funds
The survey report is part of an ongoing effort by MHP, CHAPA and the state Department of Housing and Community Development to track emergency rental assistance programs and best practices.
MHP is responsible for updating the survey, with support from DHCD and CHAPA. Bosse said a detailed google document has been created and is now posted on the Housing Toolbox web site, a go-to web site of housing resources that MHP maintains. This document features granular information for each ERA community, such as amount allocated, maximum assistance per household, number of months assistance will be given, eligibility requirements, contact information and a link to each community's application.
"We set it up with the idea that communities could learn from each other and so new communities that want to help residents with housing costs won't have to reinvent the wheel," said Bosse.
The effort by MHP, CHAPA and DHCD to train communities and track ERA programs began shortly after the Baker-Polito Administration declared a COVID-19 state of emergency on March 13, 2020. As the shutdown began to impact the economy, MHP's community assistance team began receiving inquiries from communities about using local funds for emergency rental assistance (ERA). Over 30 communities contacted MHP in the first weeks of the emergency.
By April, MHP had created guidelines for using CPA funds for ERA, organized a webinar with CHAPA on ERA programs, and helped create a comprehensive Q&A on how to use local funds to run an effective, short-term ERA program. All of these materials are available on MHP's Housing Toolbox local resources web site.
In May, MHP, CHAPA and DHCD conducted a survey to find out how many communities offer ERA, how much money was pledged and how communities were administering it. The initial ERA survey found that 48 communities either had or were starting ERA programs and over $21 million in local funds had been pledged to help residents impacted by COVID-19.
MHP, CHAPA and DHCD are planning to hold a virtual webinar on Sept. 15, featuring communities that will discuss the successes and challenges of operating ERA programs.
Besides Bosse, contributors to the ERA education and survey effort include Chris Kluchman of DHCD, Dana LeWinter and Whitney Demetrius of CHAPA, and Shelly Goehring of MHP. For more information, contact Katie Bosse at firstname.lastname@example.org.