$50 million in new rental relief funding is now available
Today Mayor Kim Janey announced that the City of Boston is making a record $50 million in federal funding available to help Boston renters stay stably housed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rental Relief Fund was one of the first funds in the nation created to offer financial support to residents at risk of losing their housing due to impacts from COVID-19. The new funding will enable the City of Boston to help residents pay their rent and assist in preventing evictions leading up to the federal eviction moratorium that expires on June 30. The new funding will expand the scope of the current program beyond solely paying for rent, allowing the City to assist eligible renters with utility bills, and moving costs, including the first and last month’s rent and security deposit. Approximately $3 million from this funding is being allocated to assist Boston Housing Authority (BHA) public housing tenants, with rental arrears.
“We know that many Bostonians continue to struggle to make ends meet, and need assistance with housing costs, which we have been proud to make available,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “This new infusion of funding will go above and beyond what the City has made available in the past to support renters to now include funding for utilities, moving costs within the city, and partial payments of rent. I am proud of the work we are doing with our partners, as we know it is important that we leverage every resource available to ensure the health and safety of all our residents and to keep them stably housed, and ensure an equitable recovery from the pandemic.”
Since it was established in April of 2020, the Rental Relief Fund has awarded more than $7.8 million to more than 1,860 households across the City of Boston. Funds have been distributed to support residents in every Boston neighborhood. More than 70% of individuals who have applied for financial assistance are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) households and more than 30% of applicants reported that they work or formerly worked in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry in Boston has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with roughly half of the more than 34,000 Boston residents working in the hospitality sector claiming unemployment at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 46% of applicants reported that their employers shut down or reduced operations and 10% experienced income loss due to childcare and school closures.
“We look forward to continuing to provide Rental Relief Funding to families who are at risk of eviction due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new funding from the City of Boston will ensure that residents continue to feel safe and have a roof over their heads," said Philip Giffee, Executive Director of Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH). "I am proud of the work NOAH’s great team has done assisting families in our community with eviction prevention resources and funding. Our partnership with the City of Boston during this pandemic has helped provide housing stability to hundreds of families in Boston. The City is both compassionate and equitable and we want to thank Mayor Janey and the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND) and the Office of Housing Security (OHS) for making safe and stable housing a priority in our City."
The new Rental Relief Funds may be used for rental assistance for up to 12 months and can cover past, current, and prospective rent. Additionally, these funds may be used to pay for utilities, including internet service, moving costs within the City of Boston, or to supplement partial payments of rent. The City of Boston works with partner nonprofit agencies to assist tenants throughout this process, including determining eligibility, calculating the amount of assistance, and distributing payments directly to the landlord or utility provider.
For each household, including recipients from previous application rounds, total financial assistance may not exceed more than $15,000 in a 12-month period. Anyone who has previously applied or received rental assistance in the past is encouraged to re-apply for this new funding since they may be eligible for the expanded amount of funding.
To qualify for assistance, tenants must:
- Earn less than 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or $96,250 for a family of four,
- Be financially impacted by COVID-19,
- Be a renter in Boston,
- Certify they do not receive a rental subsidy or have funds to meet their needs, and
- Not be a full-time undergraduate or graduate student.
"The new commitment of resources by the City is a strong statement that eviction must be avoided as a part of our response to the public health crisis,” said Steve Meacham, Organizing Coordinator for City Life. “It's especially important that these funds are available to families without documents. We look forward to working with DND on the non-payment cases this fund addresses and also on the growing numbers of no-fault cases that threaten our communities, especially communities of color."
A person's immigration status is not asked during the Rental Relief Fund application process, and receiving funds does not impact other financial assistance that a person may be already receiving. Additionally, assistance from the Rental Relief Fund does not affect immigration applications as a "public charge" ground of inadmissibility. Qualified residents interested in applying to this round of funding can submit their application here, available in 11 languages.
"This pandemic has been devastating for many Bostonians but has been particularly cruel to minority residents," said Karen Chen, Executive Director of the Chinese Progressive Association. "These new funds will help keep hundreds of residents in their homes and safe as we continue to battle both the Coronavirus and the economic challenges associated with the pandemic. We thank Mayor Janey for supporting and protecting the vulnerable residents of our community."
To ensure that the Fund is disbursed promptly, the City of Boston has continued its partnership with nonprofit partners Metro Housing | Boston, NOAH, and Project Hope to process applications received and disburse payments directly to landlords.
To further support tenants, the BHA recently announced that it has extended its moratorium for nonessential evictions for public housing residents through June 30, 2021, consistent with the federal Center for Disease Control extension. Residents of BHA properties who are interested in the Rental Relief Fund should not apply for the Rental Relief Fund via the online application, and are advised to check with their building supervisor or a property manager for more information on resources available to them, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, including their name, contact information, and the building they reside in.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has provided programs and services to assist both renters and landlords so they remain safely and stably housed. The OHS established the Rental Relief Fund to provide funding to landlords to pay overdue and future rent to keep Boston residents safely housed. It has established a robust court intervention program as well as landlord mediation and virtual and walk-in legal clinics to serve tenants and landlords in the City of Boston. It has continued to work with all tenants to provide wraparound housing services and supports.ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant’s rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division works with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.