Applications for Rental Relief Fund reopened
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the reopening of applications for the Rental Relief Fund, created in early April to help Boston residents at risk of losing their housing due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund reopened with $5 million available to help residents pay their rent following the end of the statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures on October 17. Over the last six months, the Fund distributed more than $3 million in payments to landlords on behalf of more than 1,000 households. More than fifty percent of the households that have been awarded funds earn less than $58,000 per year with two income earners. Qualified residents interested in applying to this round of funding can submit their application online, available in 11 languages.
"As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, it's vital that we provide residents with the resources and supports they need to stay housed, especially with the statewide moratorium on evictions lifted," said Mayor Walsh. "I'm proud that we are able to reopen the Rental Relief Fund so that we can expand our assistance for residents to ensure they remain housed during and after the pandemic."
The Rental Relief Funds may be used for short-term rental assistance for up to three months and to supplement partial payments of rent. After verifying initial eligibility, the City of Boston will refer tenants to partner non-profit agencies to finalize eligibility. Once materials are verified and the calculation of assistance is determined, the landlord receives payment directly. For each household, including recipients of previous application rounds, total financial assistance may not exceed more than $4,000 in a 12-month period.
Completed applications will be reviewed and funded on a first-come, first-served basis until all funding is distributed. Income- eligible applicants can apply for the funding on the Office of Housing Stability's website.
To qualify for assistance, tenants must:
- Earn less than 80% Area Median Income (AMI) or $90,650 for a family of four,
- Be financially impacted by COVID-19,
- Be renters in Boston as of March 1, 2020,
- Certify they do not receive a rental subsidy or have funds to meet their needs, and
- Not be a full-time student.
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.
Eligible respondents from previous funding rounds were referred to partner agencies and sent application forms to complete for disbursement of the funds to their landlords. Residents who entered the first or second lottery and have not yet returned a completed application to one of these agencies are asked to reapply. To ensure that the Fund is disbursed in a timely manner, the City of Boston has expanded its partnership with nonprofits Metro Housing Boston and Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), to include Project Hope to process applications received, and disburse payments directly to landlords.
"Project Hope applauds the City for stepping in and providing millions to families who are at risk of eviction. It will ensure that families have a roof over their head and parents and children can thrive," said Christine Dixon, Executive Director of Project Hope. "This fund and the help it provides compliments our work assisting families in our community with eviction prevention resources. In partnering with the City on this effort we will be helping to provide housing stability to hundreds of families. We thank Mayor Walsh for always making safe and stable housing a priority in the City."
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Walsh has remained focused on preventing evictions due to financial hardship. Recently, he announced a Housing Stability Pledge for landlords, urging landlords to honor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) eviction moratorium, create payment plans with and for tenants and connect them with resources, and work with the relevant voucher administrator for tenants with housing vouchers. This pledge will aid tenants who are unable to pay their rent due to loss of income during the COVID-19 public health crisis.
Mayor Walsh also filed the "Housing Stability Notification Act" with the Boston City Council to ensure Bostonians at risk of eviction know their rights and have access to the resources available to them. The ordinance would require property owners and constables who are serving a Notice to Quit (the first step in the legal process of an eviction) to provide a document containing information on tenant rights and resources available to them when issuing one. Mayor Walsh continues to advocate in support of An Act to Ensure Right to Counsel in Eviction Proceedings, a bill at the Massachusetts State House, which would provide any low-income tenant facing eviction with a court-appointed attorney for representation.
The City has also taken steps to enhance programs to help homeowners, many of whom are small landlords, to meet their own financial obligations, make critical repairs, and stay in their homes. The Boston Home Center (BHC) has partnered with the City of Boston's Tax/Title division to reach out to more than 8,000 homeowners who are past due in property taxes. This multilingual insert directs homeowners at-risk to the BHC's Foreclosure Prevention and Intervention services.
Although the Massachusetts moratorium on evictions and foreclosures ended on October 17th, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) remains in effect until December 31, 2020. In order to be covered by the CDC moratorium, tenants are required to sign and submit a declaration to their landlord stating that they qualify for protection under the moratorium. The City of Boston has translated this declaration into 11 languages and posted it on the Office of Housing Stability website so eligible tenants can sign it and send it to their landlord.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 Department's Office of Housing Stability is doing broad outreach to educate residents about their rights and to provide direct financial assistance via the Rental Relief Fund. The Boston Home Center provides down payment assistance to first-time home buyers, home repair assistance for seniors and low-income residents, and foreclosure prevention services to homeowners at risk of losing their homes. The Supportive Housing Division is working with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.