Eviction prevention resources available to Boston residents
Mayor Kim Janey has announced City of Boston funding and other assistance to help Boston renters stay stably housed during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the expiration of the federal eviction moratorium for renters, Mayor Janey is raising awareness about City of Boston protections and resources available to keep tenants in their homes, as well as State and Federal programs to assist landlords and homeowners worried about foreclosure.
“I am committed to offering lifelines to Boston residents facing economic distress due to the ongoing pandemic,” said Boston Mayor Kim Janey. “Strong neighborhoods and stable housing are essential to Boston’s recovery, reopening, and renewal. I urge Boston tenants, landlords, and homeowners who need help to take advantage of resources offered by the City of Boston and the Commonwealth.
Although the federal eviction moratorium has expired, tenants are not without protection due to the extension of the MA Chapter 257 requirement that courts pause non-payment eviction cases if tenants have pending applications for rental assistance. These protections are part of new state law, Chapter 20, and will remain in effect until April 2022. Tenants should notify housing court that they have applied for rental assistance, and be aware that a landlord cannot evict anyone without a Court Order. The City of Boston’s Office of Housing Stability has access to $50 million in Rental Relief Funds and also offers housing crisis coordinators available by phone or in person who can assist tenants who need help. The City of Boston has also partnered with the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) to create a dedicated rental arrears program to support tenants of the BHA. Immigration status is not a consideration for receiving rental assistance from the City of Boston.
To access rental assistance, legal advice and assistance, and housing search help, please visit boston.gov/housing-stability or email OHSintake@boston.gov to learn more about how to access available resources. If you have an urgent housing issue or have further questions about resources, please call 617-635-4200 for assistance.
For individuals in immediate need of shelter, the City shelters at Woods-Mullen and Southampton Street shelters are open 24/7 and have capacity to accept more guests. In addition, the City works closely with other homeless shelter providers to connect residents with help. A complete list of shelters, daytime resources, and locations offering meals can be found here.
Boston’s Rental Relief Fund has awarded more than $17 million to over 3,200 households in every neighborhood in Boston since it was created in April 2020, during the first wave of the COVID-19 global pandemic. More than 70% of RRF applicants are from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) households. More than 30% of applicants reported that they work or formerly worked in Boston’s hard-hit hospitality industry.
The Office of Housing Stability (OHS) has partnered with Greater Boston Legal Services (GBLS) to ensure that Boston tenants who reach out to OHS seeking legal assistance get access to legal representation. Housing court navigators and lawyers are at the Housing Court when it is in session. Tenants who find themselves in front of a judge without a lawyer should ask for one. The OHS hosts weekly legal clinics and office hours for tenants needing assistance and can connect them with a landlord counselor, OHS Staff, or a Greater Boston Legal Services Attorney. Tenants can find information on what to do if they are facing eviction on the OHS website.
In November of 2020, the City passed the Housing Stability Notification Act, which requires that any landlord planning to end a tenancy provides tenants with a Notice of Tenant’s Rights and Resources. Landlords are required to submit a copy of the notice to quit (the first step in the eviction process) and notice of non-renewal of lease to the City’s Office of Housing Stability, which allows city agencies to proactively reach out to offer support around unpaid rent or other services that are needed to avoid evictions. The tenant rights include: a landlord cannot move their belongings out of their apartment; cannot change their locks; cannot shut off their utilities; or interfere with their use of the unit without permission from the court.
Public service messaging about this and other tenant rights is being disseminated in multiple languages throughout Boston.
Stabilization services are also available to landlords who are facing foreclosure or having trouble meeting their mortgage obligations.
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, home repair assistance for seniors and low-income residents, and foreclosure prevention services for homeowners having trouble meeting their mortgage obligations. 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.