Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

Learn how to apply for shelter if you are pregnant or have children under 21 years old.

Massachusetts Emergency Family Shelter Contact Line


Open M-F 8am-5pm - Closed on State Holidays

The Details   of Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

Eligibility   for Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

You can apply if:

and if the reason you need shelter is one of the following: 

  • No-fault fire, flood, natural disaster, condemnation, or foreclosure 
  • Fleeing domestic violence (current or within past 12 months) 
  • No-fault eviction 
  • Your children are exposed to a substantial health and safety risk 

A family may include parents or guardians, spouses, siblings, stepparents, stepsiblings, or half-siblings.

*What counts as "gross income"?

Gross income can include wages, gifts, alimony, child support, and government payments such as Social Security, TAFDC, SSI and SSD. 

Some types of income that are not counted, such as food stamps (SNAP) and some kinds of education grants, loans and scholarships. This is not a complete list of the types of income that are counted and not counted. For a more complete list see 760 CMR 67 and 106 CMR 704.

What you need

What we need before we can offer you shelter:

  • Proof of identity (examples: state issued driver’s license, birth certificate, or passport)
  • Proof of family relationship. We need to be able to confirm that you & your children are all part of one family (examples: birth certificate, custody paperwork). 

You will then have up to 30 days to provide other documents to show you are eligible for EA emergency family shelter. This includes:

  • MA Residency Documents to prove that you are a resident and plan on staying here (examples: MassHealth registration, voter or school registration, any Mass. ID)
  • Documents for Cause of Homelessness. We can only help families who are homeless for certain reasons. We can also help some families who do not have a safe place to stay (examples: eviction paperwork, documentation showing an inability to stay in your current home due to health, safety, or other reasons).
  • Financial Information - Assets & Income. We can only help families who are below our income and asset limits. (examples: pay stubs, bank statements)
  • Citizenship or Immigration Documents.  At least one family member must have an eligible immigration status. (examples: U.S. issued passport, green card, documentation that the United States is aware of the person’s presence and is not trying to make the person leave the country right away)

How to apply   Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

  1. Call (866) 584-0653 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. A call center representative will record your contact information and refer you to a Homeless Coordinator if you want to apply.  
  2. The Homeless Coordinator will help you complete your application and see if you are eligible.

You can also apply by visiting one of our offices (see schedules below in the "In person" section). Offices and phone line are closed on weekends and state holidays. 

  1. Go to one of our offices. The list below shows which day(s) each office is open. On days when offices are open, they operate from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. All offices are closed on weekends and state holidays.
  2. At the office, you'll meet with a Homeless Coordinator. You should bring documents proving your identity and the relationship between your family members.
  3. The Homeless Coordinator will help you complete your application and assess your eligibility.

Office locations and days of operation:

  • Boston – 2201 Washington Street, Boston (Roxbury) - Nubian Square - Open Monday through Friday
  • Brockton – 60 Main Street - Open Monday through Friday
  • Chelsea – 80 Everett Avenue, 3rd Floor - Open Monday through Friday
  • Hyannis – 181 North Street - Open Tuesday
  • Lawrence – 280 Merrimack Street - Open Monday through Friday
  • Lowell – 131 Davidson Street - Open Thursday
  • New Bedford – 160 West Rodney French Boulevard - Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Salem – 45 Congress Street, Suite 4120 - Open Monday, Wednesday, Friday
  • Springfield – 243 Cottage Street - Open Monday through Friday
  • Worcester – 50 Southwest Cutoff - Open Monday through Friday

Next steps   for Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

  1. Make sure you provide all your documentation

    Within 30 days: Provide your Homeless Coordinator (the person who helps complete your application) with any documents you didn't have when you applied. 

    When you apply (once you have an ETO Case Number), you can now submit the required documents for your EA Family Shelter application using a Self-Service Document Upload Tool.  Below are instructions on how to upload documents:

  2. You may be placed on a waitlist

    Emergency Family Shelter Waitlist and Prioritization

    The state is not able to expand shelter capacity beyond 7,500 shelter units. Due to this, the family shelter system may not have enough space to shelter every eligible family right away. When there is not a space, eligible families will be placed on a waitlist.  

    How does the waitlist work? 
    • Families with specific clinical/medical and/or safety risks will be prioritized on the waitlist.
    • The order of the waitlist is based on whether a family has a clinical and safety risk priority designation combined with when they were found eligible.
  3. You may be eligible for HomeBASE

    Families who have provided all required documentation and are fully eligible for EA Emergency Family Shelter are eligible for HomeBASE, even if they are not in a shelter yet. Families who are living in Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter are also eligible for HomeBASE.

    After meeting with our staff, you will be referred to HomeBASE and someone from the program will contact you within 24 hours (except if you visit our office on a Friday).

    HomeBASE can help pay for: 

    1. First and last month's rent, security deposit, and broker’s fee for a new apartment
    2. Monthly payments to help with rent for up to three years
    3. Furniture, moving expenses, and utilities, based on families’ needs
    4. Overdue rent and/or utility payments
  4. After you're given a place in a family shelter

    Required Activities when Living in EA Family Shelter

    The program’s goal is to help families living in shelter to stabilize and to find permanent housing. In order to achieve this goal, families living in shelter are required to develop and participate in activities outline in their rehousing plan.

    Emergency Family Shelter Rules

    To make sure that shelters are safe for everyone, families living in shelter must follow shelter rules, including:

    • Arriving by curfew
    • Spending every night at the shelter unless permission is granted
    • Only having guests at times and in ways outlined in the rules
    • No pets (except for service animals or other animals under the Americans with Disabilities Act)
    • No alcohol or illegal drugs.

    The full Uniform Shelter Rules are available on the Uniform Shelter Rules page.

Income requirements   for Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

Family Size115% of Federal Poverty Guidelines (FPG)
Gross monthly income must be at or below numbers listed below:
Per Additional Person$516

Contact   for Apply for Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter

Offices across the state - Please see list on 'Apply for EA' webpage, Statewide, MA 02114

Open M-F 8am-5pm - Closed on State Holidays

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