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1,000 new section 8 vouchers issued for Boston families and residents

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Mayor's Office

Vouchers will provide housing assistance to Boston chronically homeless individuals and families

Mayor Martin J. Walsh together with the Boston Housing Authority and local shelter providers yesterday gathered in Roxbury to announce the release of 1,000 new rental housing vouchers for chronically homeless residents and families in Boston. The vouchers are funded through the federal Housing Choice Voucher Program through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and will increase the BHA's portfolio of vouchers to 13,500.
"I am incredibly proud that through these 1,000 rental housing vouchers we'll be able to provide more residents and families with a home," said Mayor Walsh. "These vouchers are more than a rent subsidy -- they represent a foundation for stability, support and self-sufficiency. We will continue working together to create these homes for our residents and be a city where every single person matters and every single person is cared for."

Through partnerships with DHD and DHCD and the network of shelter providers and service providers, voucher holders will receive housing search assistance, funds for relocation, and stabilization services for at least six months.

"These vouchers not only help homeless residents and families find permanent affordable housing, they offer them the stability they need to pursue new opportunities and better their lives," said BHA Administrator Bill McGonagle.

The BHA will issue the 1,000 new vouchers through the Coordinated Access System referral program, the Rapid Rehousing program, the Moving On program, and the Leading the Way Home Program.

Rapid Rehousing is a form of supported housing designed to rehouse families who have recently become homeless. Moving On is a program that will assist formerly chronically homeless tenants who currently occupy traditional housing that has supportive services, and are no longer in need of those services, transition to independent housing. The  Coordinated Access System was developed under the Mayor's Action Plan to End Veteran and Chronic Homelessness and prioritizes matching the most vulnerable homeless individuals, including veterans, youth and young adults and long-term chronically homelessness individuals to housing opportunities. Leading the Way Home is a form of supported housing designed to help families transition out of emergency shelters by offering 18 months of supportive services focused on stabilization and self-sufficiency, along with Section 8 rental assistance.

In addition to the tenant-based Housing Choice Vouchers, the BHA will offer up to 150 project-based vouchers to preserve affordability in developments subsidized through the expiring Mass Housing 13A mortgage program. 13A developments may use these vouchers to help tenants remain in their homes and prevent any risk of homelessness.

BHA was able to secure approximately $28 million in additional funding for vouchers this year after they initiated a rent survey and appealed HUD estimates for Fair Market Rent (FMR) in the Boston area last fall. The survey demonstrated the need for a higher FMR, which sets the payment standard housing authorities can set for voucher-subsidized rents, and determines subsidy levels for voucher holders. The previous HUD FMR rate lagged significantly behind the Boston region's rising rental market. The new rate and additional funding will allow BHA to issue at least 1000 new housing vouchers. The BHA last issued new vouchers in late 2017.

"The Section 8 voucher provided me with the ability to find a place for my children and I to call home. With this new stability, I have been able to maintain a decently paying job along with childcare for my children." said Paulina Morillo, a voucher holder from Dorchester. "These vouchers will do the same for many families like mine."

In addition to today's announcement, Mayor Walsh last week announced his FY20 recommended budget, which includes $4 million to support the creation of approximately 50 new units of permanent supportive housing each year. Creating new permanent supportive housing is a critical component of Boston's Way Home, the City's action plan to end veteran and chronic homelessness in Boston.

In addition, the FY20 recommended budget includes $1 million to provide connections to employment, rental assistance and supportive services for youth, building on the City's action plan to support young Bostonians experiencing homelessness. These funds will help support early identification and outreach, increase access to effective supports, and develop a collaborative system to create pathways to opportunity for those experiencing homelessness. This investment is in addition to a $4.9 million Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The FY20 budget proposal also includes a $300,000 investment that will fund four formerly homeless individuals to work as peer navigators across Boston shelters to connect individuals currently experiencing chronic homelessness with permanent housing pathways. Peer housing navigators will help clients with their housing applications, gathering documentation needed for housing, and mentoring others as they transition from homelessness to housing.

Earlier this week, Mayor Walsh celebrated a $30 million capital investment to revitalize Boston Housing Authority's Bunker Hill Housing development in Charlestown, the first time in the City's history that City bond dollars have been invested directly into a BHA project.