Another $5 million dedicated to Rental Relief Fund; second round of applications open soon
Building on his commitment to keeping the residents of Boston stably housed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the reopening of the application process for the Rental Relief Fund at noon this Friday, June 5, with an infusion of $5 million in new funding, in addition to the $3 million dedicated towards the Fund in April. The Rental Relief Fund was established by Mayor Walsh as a means to provide income-eligible tenants in the City of Boston with direct financial relief to assist with rental payments. The deadline to complete the initial pre-screening application is Friday, June 19, and applications will be available in seven languages on boston.gov/rental-relief.
"During this challenging time, it is important that we leverage all resources available to ensure the health and safety of our residents, and to keep them stably housed during the COVID-19 public health crisis," said Mayor Walsh. "We know that many Bostonians are struggling, and we know the need for assistance with housing payments remains, which is why we are proud to make available this additional funding for households who otherwise would be unable to make their rent payments."
The amount of assistance renters receive is determined by analyzing their income sources, including the federal Economic Impact Payment payments residents may have received. To qualify for financial assistance from Boston's Rental Relief Fund, households must reside in the City of Boston and their income must be at or under 80% of Area Median Income which is $90,650 for a family of four. Preference will continue to be given to qualified applicants who were not eligible for unemployment benefits or, due to the nature of their jobs, would not receive full benefits. The Rental Relief Funds may be used for short-term rental assistance for up to three months. The funds may be used to cover more than one month's rent or may be used to supplement partial payments of rent. For each household, financial assistance will not exceed more than $4,000 in a 12-month period.
Since the Fund was first announced in April, the City has been working with partner organizations including Metro Housing|Boston, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH) and Project Hope to process the 1,600 applications received, ensure required documentation is provided by the applicant, and administer funds directly to the landlords. To date, over $680,000 in assistance has been disseminated to 210 households in 17 different neighborhoods to cover rent for April and May.
As part of the application process, the City has made available staff from the Department of Neighborhood Development and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) to support callbacks to applicants through the application process. Assistance has been provided in multiple languages with the help of multilingual City staff as well as telephonic interpreters.
"NOAH is proud to be able to participate in the Mayor's much-needed emergency rent relief program," said Philip Giffee, Executive Director of NOAH. "The City is to be congratulated for stepping up to provide millions of dollars to help these vulnerable individuals and families remain housed for the long term. The Mayor and the City staff are attuned to meeting the needs of distressed households and by creating another round of rent relief funding, they are looking to help both Boston residents as well as the economy as whole. It is a wonderful effort among dedicated City staff and hard-working non-profits which work closely with local community members to assist them at this demanding time. NOAH is grateful to have the opportunity to do this work."
Since the first round of applications closed in mid-April, the City has been receiving interest forms from residents who have requested information on the next round of funding, and to date the City has received 3,375 expressions of interest forms. In an effort to better serve residents in the current round announced today, the City is extending the pre-screening period to two weeks to help applicants determine their eligibility, and demonstrating the City's commitment to ensuring fair and equitable access to this funding. The pre-application screening forms will be available in seven languages from Friday, June 5 to Friday, June 19. Any qualified applicants from the first round who do not receive funding will automatically be entered into the second round of the fund.
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.
"Project Hope has assisted families in our community for many years with eviction prevention resources to ensure that families have a roof over their head and parents and children can thrive," said Christine Dixon, Executive Director of Project Hope. "We are pleased to be partnering with the City of Boston to be able to connect families in crisis with critical resources through the Rental Relief Fund in this time of unprecedented need. We are grateful to Mayor Walsh for prioritizing housing stability for families in our city."
"The Boston Rental Relief Fund helps to relieve the fear and anxiety of losing your home in the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis," said Zoe Cronin, Managing Attorney of the Housing Unit at Greater Boston Legal Services. "This fund is critical because it helps those most in need and those not able to access other programs."
A statewide eviction and foreclosure moratorium is currently in place across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, protecting tenants from being evicted and homeowners from foreclosure. The moratoriums will remain in place until August 18 or 45 days after the state of emergency ends, whichever is sooner. As part of the City's work to prepare for the end of these moratoriums, this new infusion of funding, along with other housing stability resources, will help keep hundreds of people in their homes.
"Metro Housing has been thrilled to partner with the City of Boston and the Department of Neighborhood Development to connect residents in need with critical rent relief funds," said Chris Norris, Executive Director of Metro Housing Boston. "With applications from neighborhoods across the city, the Rental Relief Fund is on track to help hundreds of families to survive the current housing crises and remain in their homes, close to their family, friends, and social supports."
Other COVID-19 resources available on boston.gov and through the City of Boston include free meals for students and adult residents; free toiletries for Boston students; emergency childcare centers; information on homeless shelters; transportation options for healthcare workers; resources for those with substance use disorder; and mental health resources. In addition, the City has launched boston.gov/reopening with information on Boston's cautious, phased-in reopening of the economy.
For information on additional programs, please visit boston.gov/coronavirus, or call 3-1-1, Boston's 24-hour constituent hotline. Text BOSCOVID to 888-777 to receive text alerts on a regular basis, available in 11 languages.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 COVID-19 response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant's rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time homebuyers and home repairs for seniors and low income residents. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness.