Income-eligible individuals and families, regardless of immigration status, who have lost income or seen expenses rise due to a hardship, including COVID-19, can apply for help with overdue rent or mortgage payments, short-term rent or mortgage stipends, and in some cases, moving costs (first, last, security) through state programs, state, federal and privately funded programs such as:
Apply now by finding your Regional Administering Agency using the locator below. Due to unprecedented need during COVID-19, application processing can take several weeks and funds are not guaranteed.
How do the programs work? If you are found eligible, the RAA will pay your landlord (or lender, if you are a homeowner) directly. Funds will not go to you directly. Your landlord/lender must provide documentation for funds to be approved. You should notify them you have applied.
Am I guaranteed assistance? No. You must meet the eligibility criteria, and funds are spent continually and can run out at any time during the process.
How does the application process work?
Step 1: Apply online.
Step 2: Program staff will contact you asking for documentation. It is critical you provide all documentation promptly or you will be deemed ineligible.
Step 3: Your landlord (or lender, if you are a homeowner) will be contacted and asked to provide documentation and if they will accept the assistance payment.
What if I need assistance applying (either language or technology help)? Contact your RAA using the tool above. Applications are available in multiple languages and can be mailed to you.
What will I need to provide? Documentation of income reduction or expense increase, documentation of rent or mortgage owed, identification for the head of household and income information for all members of the household, a copy of the lease or mortgage statement, and other documentation. It is critical that you respond to RAA staff with this information right away.
Should I apply at multiple Regional Administering Agencies? No. This will slow down the process. Each Regional Administering Agency is only allowed to accept applications for the communities covered in their region.
I am concerned I make too much to qualify for RAFT or ERMA; what should I do? Contact your RAA anyway. Many administer or know of private or local emergency funds.
How long does it take to get approved? Processing times vary depending on demand, which is unprecedented. Applicants are urged to apply as soon as you know you'll be unable to pay all or part of the rent or mortgage, respond to staff when they ask for documentation, and have patience. Processing can take several weeks, which is why it is important to apply as soon as you think you may be unable to pay.
How is RAFT different from ERMA? RAFT is for households under 50% of area median income (AMI), while ERMA is for households 50-80% of AMI. Also, ERMA can only assist with rent/mortgage arrears and rent/mortgage stipends, whereas RAFT can assist with a wider variety of housing-related expenses. There are also local and private funds with higher income limits. Your RAA will work with you to determine which program is the best fit for your needs. The application is the same for both programs, so you do not need to know which program you are eligible for and can apply to both at the same time. Both RAFT and ERMA are available for up to $4,000. However, starting on October 19, 2020, a special COVID Response RAFT benefit level will be available offering up to $10,000 per eligible household. In order to access more than the normal $4,000 maximum RAFT benefit, the landlord and tenant must sign an agreement that allows the 3 tenant to remain housed for 6 months, or until June 2021, if there are school aged children in the household. Note, this benefit level is only for those households facing a financial hardship related to COVID-19. More information will be posted as it becomes available.
If I need more help, where else can I go? The Commonwealth of Massachusetts has a list of Eviction Diversion resources. Nine regional Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs) offer answers to a wide range of questions about housing issues and cover every city and town in the state. Tenants, landlords, prospective buyers, and homeowners can access region-specific information designed to maximize housing stability, strengthen investments, and minimize disputes. Visit masshousinginfo.org to find your local HCEC.
What should I expect once I apply? Your Regional Administering Agency will be in touch with you about next steps. Make sure to respond to them right away. Expect several weeks between applying and learning whether you are approved or denied. The RAA will notify you and your landlord by phone, email, or letter that you have been approved and when your landlord can expect payment. Usually the notification letter is sent prior to the payment.
How does the eviction/foreclosure moratorium work? From October 17th-December 31st the federal CDC eviction moratorium will be in effect for tenants. Courts will accept filings and process cases, and may enter judgments, but will not issue an order of execution (the court order that allows a landlord to evict a tenant) until after the expiration of the CDC order. Protection is limited to households who meet certain income and vulnerability criteria, make a good faith effort to make partial payments, and who submit a written declaration to their landlord. Note the CDC moratorium covers evictions, not foreclosures, though the Federal CARES Act provides protections for owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties with mortgages that are federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) backed or funded (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). You can learn about your options, find out if you quality, and request forbearance or mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.
More information about the federal moratorium will be linked here as more information becomes available. In the meantime, visit the Commonwealth's Eviction Diversion FAQ page.
Can I apply for someone else? You can help someone else with the application, but the individual applying for assistance must be the one to sign and submit the application.
Am I eligible for RAFT or ERMA if I live in subsidized housing (e.g. public housing, Housing Choice Voucher/Section 8, MRVP)? If you live in a unit where rent is calculated based on a percentage of income, you must seek a rent adjustment first before accessing RAFT or ERMA. The regional administering agency will evaluate the situation and may be able to help you to seek a rent adjustment or repayment plan for past due rent. If the rent adjustment is not granted or there are other household financial considerations, the RAFT or ERMA program may be able to help.
Who pays for this? RAFT and ERMA are Massachusetts state programs. Other programs come from a variety of sources.