The Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing Act of 2009 (HEARTH Act) amended the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, including major revisions to what is now titled the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) program. The ESG program assists homeless households and households at risk of homelessness by providing the services necessary to help them quickly regain stable housing after experiencing a housing crisis and/or homelessness. ESG services are procured on an annual basis. Therefore, the services provided may change each year.  Currently, DHCD funds ESG services under the following components: Shelter Support; Rapid Re-housing; and Homelessness Prevention.


Shelter Support

Program Description:

The Commonwealth, through DHCD, supports a large network of temporary emergency placement facilities serving over 3,000 homeless families through our Emergency Assistance program (EA) and over 3,000 homeless individuals each night. Therefore, this ESG funding is limited to:

1.  Non-Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelters;

2.  Unfunded individual Emergency Shelters; and

3.  Emergency Shelters for families currently fleeing domestic violence (DV).

All shelters must accept any family or individual in need of emergency shelter provided that the head of household agrees to:

  • Comply with basic safety shelter rules; and
  • Work with staff to develop and comply with a rapid re-housing plan

ESG funding may be used to assist with the costs of creating and/or operating new or unfunded emergency shelter beds or rooms for homeless individuals or families in high need areas.  Rehabilitation of shelter facilities to create new community beds is not allowable under ESG. However, one-time costs for painting, repairs, beds, etc. are.  Additionally, all family shelter providers must be able to keep a family in need of emergency shelter intact, including 18 year old male family members.

Who is eligible?

Any non-EA eligible family or individual in need of emergency shelter and any household currently fleeing domestic violence may access shelters funded under the Emergency Solutions Grant. There are no eligibility criteria. However, households seeking shelter are expected to comply with the rules of the shelter and comply with rapid re-housing case management.

Application process:

Households in need of emergency shelter must contact the shelter or DV shelter provider directly to receive shelter services. While no household in need should be turned away due to eligibility, shelters,  specifically non-EA family and DV shelter providers,  may be at capacity and unable to provide shelter  at the time of intake. In such a case, the shelter provider shall provide the household in need with a referral to another shelter that is able to provide immediate assistance.


Rapid Re-Housing

Program Description:

DHCD currently provides funding to assist homeless households to move quickly into stable housing through rapid re-housing activities. These homeless service providers are tasked with collaborating and coordinating with ESG funded emergency shelter providers to use ESG funds to rapidly re-house individuals and non-EA eligible families currently homeless who lack the resources and support networks, with the ultimate goal of decreasing the number of homeless individuals and families across Massachusetts.  Services funded under this component may include financial assistance as needed to rapidly re-house a household, and follow-up services to assist households to maintain their housing. ESG rapid re-housing services may not be combined with any other rapid re-housing service, including RAFT, HomeBase, and other state or HUD funded rapid re-housing or homeless prevention programs.

Who is eligible?

1. DHCD defines eligibility for Rapid Re-housing services as a homeless individual in an emergency shelter, a family in non-EA funded emergency shelter or domestic violence emergency shelter, or an individual or family living in a place not meant for human habitation.

Emergency shelter:

  • Does not include transitional shelter programs or transitional housing;
  • Must be a low threshold shelter meaning the shelter guest does not have to meet any particular criteria other than being homeless with no place else to go, and agree to comply with basic shelter safety rules. 
  • Must be an emergency shelter where guests do not have to sign an occupancy agreement or program participation agreement to access the shelter. The only exception to this requirement to participate in services is for emergency shelters specifically serving families currently fleeing domestic violence.

2. Households must document that they lack the necessary resources and support networks (e.g., family, friends, faith-based or other social networks) immediately available to obtain housing on their own.

3. While there is no income requirement for ESG Rapid Re-housing services, households seeking assistance must provide sufficient documentation that they will be able to maintain rent and stabilize within their new unit for at least 12 months after placement. DHCD defines housing stability as having enough income every 30 day period to pay rent, pay any utilities not included in rent, afford transportation as needed, and buy food for the entire household.

Application process:

Households in need of rapid re-housing assistance should ask their emergency shelter case manager or their homeless outreach worker for a referral. Households may also contact the homeless service provider in the area in which they reside to complete an intake and application. A list of homeless service providers with DHCD ESG funding can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/hed/housing/stabilization/emergency-solutions-grant.html.


Homelessness Prevention

Program Description:

DHCD currently provides funding to assist households at imminent risk of becoming homeless to help stop an impending eviction and stabilize a household within their current unit or re-locate them to another unit where they are able to stabilize in order to prevent homelessness.  Services funded under this component may include financial assistance as needed to prevent homelessness, and follow-up services to assist households in maintain their housing once an eviction has been stopped. ESG homelessness prevention services may not be combined with any other prevention service, including RAFT, HomeBase, and other state or HUD funded rapid re-housing or homeless prevention programs.

Who is eligible?

  1. Households must have income below 30% of the applicable Area Median Income (AMI) at time of intake; and
  2. May not be eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA). EA eligibility criteria can be found at 106 CMR: 309.020.  These standards are posted at www.mass.gov/dta and can be viewed by selecting the Program Eligibility Charts and Tables link under Key Resources; and
  3. Must be currently housed and have received a Writ of Summary Process; and
  4. Must lacks resources and/or support networks, e.g., family, friends, faith-based or other social networks, necessary to prevent homelessness
  5. Must provide sufficient documentation that they will be able to maintain rent and stabilize within their unit for at least 12 months after eviction prevention services are offered. DHCD defines housing stability as having enough income every 30 day period to pay rent, pay any utilities not included in rent, afford transportation as needed, and buy food for the entire household

Application process:

Households in need of prevention assistance should contact the prevention provider in the area in which they reside to complete an intake and application. Additionally, housing court advocates may be able to complete a referral and/or ESG intake. A list of prevention providers with DHCD ESG funding can be found at: http://www.mass.gov/hed/housing/stabilization/emergency-solutions-grant.html.