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COVID-19 DHCD Website

Please use this page as a resource, we will continue updating it with DHCD guidance and information related to our programs.

New Resources for Renters and Homeowners

On March 10, 2020, Governor Charlie Baker announced a State of Emergency in Massachusetts to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Commonwealth. On April 20, 2020, Governor Baker signed into law legislation that imposes a temporary moratorium on evictions that goes beyond previous DHCD guidance.  The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is committed to supporting our families and residents through this uncertain time. 

This includes:

  • A new $5 million special fund under the RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) program for eligible households (families and individuals) who may face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. Full details on this under the RAFT tab below.
  • A new $20 million special fund for Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance for households who may not qualify for RAFT. Please see the ERMA tab below on this program for full details.
  • A moratorium on all non-essential evictions for tenants who cannot pay rent due to a COVID-19 related hardship.  Full details on the moratorium with forms and instructions and emergency regulations can be found on the tab below.
  • Guidance to all state-aided public housing operators, including Local Housing Authorities and private operators, to suspend both pending non-essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions.
  • Guidance urging operators of private, affordable housing to suspend non-essential evictions for loss of income or employment circumstances that result in a tenant’s inability to make rent. This guidance also urges operators to establish reasonable payment plans, to notify Section 8 or public housing residents about interim income recertification to adjust rent payments, and to consider offering relief funding for residents ineligible for income reassessment.
  • DHCD is moving to temporarily suspend terminations of federal and state rental vouchers, including assistance provided under the Section 8 (DHCD portfolio only), Massachusetts Rental Voucher and Alternative Housing Voucher programs, in all cases other than those involving violent or drug-related criminal activity that seriously affects the health and safety of other residents.
  • DHCD will also automatically extend the deadline by which a household issued a voucher must identify a housing unit where they can use the voucher. The 60 day voucher search term would be extended automatically until 30 calendar days past the expiration of the state of emergency.
  • The Division of Banks has also released additional guidance for homeowners and financial institutions regarding foreclosure during the state of emergency. You can find more information on their website

Table of Contents

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program and COVID-19 State of Emergency

The new funding of $5 million enables the RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition) program to create a special program for households facing instability as a result of a COVID-19 related housing crisis due to a loss of wages or increase in expenses (e.g., medical expenses). This additional funding will result in approximately 1,667 households impacted by COVID-19 being served.

The RAFT program helps keep households in stable housing situations when facing eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies caused by loss of income, increase in expenses, or both. RAFT assists households of all sizes and configurations with financial assistance up to $4,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.

RAFT funding is distributed by our partner Regional Administering Agencies. The websites of the Regional Administering Agencies are below. Please check these websites for information about how to apply for the RAFT program while offices are closed. All offices are operating remotely and will be able to take applications and questions.

Berkshire Housing Development Corporation: berkshirehousing.com
Community Teamwork Inc.: www.commteam.org
Franklin County Regional Housing and Redevelopment Authority: www.fcrhra.org
Housing Assistance Corporation: haconcapecod.org
Way Finders: www.wayfindersma.org
Metro Housing|Boston: www.metrohousingboston.org
RCAP Solutions: www.rcapsolutions.org
South Middlesex Opportunity Council: www.smoc.org
NeighborWorks Housing Solutions: www.nhsmass.org
Lynn Housing Authority and Neighborhood Development: www.lhand.org
Central MA Housing Alliance: www.cmhaonline.org

For more information on your Regional Administering Agency and where you can go to apply for RAFT due to the COVID-19 related housing costs based on your community, please visit the DHCD Resource Locator site.

Additional Resources

Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program (ERMA)

On July 1, 2020 a new, $20 million, state-wide fund, the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program, will provide direct funding to eligible households who have suffered financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic and State of Emergency.

ERMA can provide rental and mortgage assistance to low-income households who have been impacted by the crisis and may not be eligible for traditional or COVID-19 RAFT.

This program is available for households within the 50-80% range of Area Median Income (AMI). Like the RAFT program, ERMA may provide up to $4,000 for eligible households to assist with rent or mortgage arrears accrued after April 1, 2020 and/or with upcoming rent or mortgage payments.

Households can look at regional income levels to assess their eligibility, which can be found below. We encourage households who think they may be eligible to reach out to the eleven agencies that administer ERMA and RAFT on the state’s behalf, this includes our nine Housing Consumer Education Centers, as well as LHAND and the Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance.

Additional Resources

Guidance for Private Affordable Housing Operators and Owners

DHCD is urging operators and owners of private, affordable housing to suspend all action on nonemergency evictions during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. This guidance also reminds owners and operators that the Massachusetts Housing Court has suspended all non-emergency proceedings during the State of Emergency, and that voucher holders with either project-based vouchers, or mobile vouchers can have their rent re-calculated if there is a loss of income due to the COVID-19 emergency.

DHCD has also issued guidance, in coordination with the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, and other partners on limiting visitors to multi-unit housing developments, along with an attachment including contact information for local Aging Service Access Point providers. 

Initial guidance can be found below on rent increases during the COVID-19 health emergency with regards to privately owned affordable housing. DHCD expects owners to refrain from raising rents during this period of time.

Additional Resources

Guidance for State-Aided Public Housing

DHCD oversees more than 200 Local Housing Authorities across Massachusetts, covering a portfolio of more than 45,000 units of state-aided public housing. Here you can find all of the Public Housing Notices that DHCD has released regarding COVID-19. For all Public Housing Notices, please visit this page

Notices:
2020-27 Recommendations for Safe Reopening in Phase III
       Health and Safety Inspection LHA Instructions
       Health & Safety Inspection Form Template
2020-24 Design and Funding Guidelines for Adapting LHA Office Spaces for Social Distancing and Indoor Air Quality
2020-23 Phase I & II Reopening Guidance
2020-21A Rent Policy During COVID-19 Emergency
       Addendum #1 Q&A
       Rent Scenarios
       Regulator Waiver on Late Fees and Interest
       Regulatory Waiver on Rent Increases
2020-20 Restricting Access to High-Risk Developments
       EOEA Homecare Essential Employees
       Malden Board of Health Order Restricting Visitors at MHA Properties
       Template Holder Agreement
2020-16 Remote Public Meetings During COVID-19
2020-15 Resident Services Resources
       Self Sufficiency Program Questions and Answers
2020-14 Procuring Supplies & Services Related to COVID-19
       OSD Products and Services Bulletin
2020-13 Preparing for and Responding to COVID-19 Case in Public Housing
       Addendum #1 COVID-19 Lease Addendum for Quarantine Units
       COVID-19 Disclosure Permission Log
2020-12 Guidance on Evictions and Rent Redetermination
2020-11 Operational Guidance for COVID-19
       Coronavirus Questionnaire for Public ENG-SPA 3-15
       Coronavirus Questionnaire Instructions for Work Orders 3-16
       COVID-19 Building Visitor Log
       COVID-19 STOP SIGN TEMPLATE
       Coronavirus Resident Notice Template
2020-10 Capital projects During Covid-19
2020-09 Interim Redeterminations
2020-08 DHCD Oversight During COVID-19
      PHN 2020-08 Addendum #1
2020-07 COVID-19 Information Memo

Guidance for Rental Voucher Holders and Administering Agencies

The Division of Rental Assistance has issued guidance to administering agencies on rent re-certification, a right for any tenant using the following rental vouchers: MRVP, AHVP, and federal vouchers within DHCD’s portfolio. If you have experienced a loss of income, and utilize one of these vouchers, you can apply at any time to have your rent contribution re-calculated by your administering agency.

Please see further guidance below for administering agencies on the suspension of termination in nonessential circumstances for voucher holders.

Additional Resources

Guidance for Family and Individual Shelter Providers

The Division of Housing Stabilization (DHS) oversees the state’s response to family homelessness, through our Emergency Assistance Program, and provides funding to individual shelters across the Commonwealth.

Please find here the guidance DHCD and DHS has distributed to family and individual shelter providers.

Additional Resources

Guidance on Construction

please see link below

Additional Resources

Resources and Guidance for Municipalities

DHCD’s Community Services Division provides funding and technical assistance to cities and towns on a variety of development and local issues. Please find a variety of resources for municipalities in this section.

Below find a FAQ and information related to the Major Disaster Declaration issued on March 20, 2020 and federal reimbursement for COVID-19 related costs incurred by affected local governments. For more information related to the federal CARES Act and community services, please refer to the Federal CARES Act Policy Changes and Funding Program Information subsection on this page

DHCD is partnering with Massachusetts Housing Partnership and Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA) to provide best practices and technical assistance to Massachusetts municipalities regarding locally-funded emergency rental assistance programs to respond to COVID-19 (funded by CPA, CDBG, or Affordable Housing Trusts). In May 2020, DHCD and partners published a survey of locally funded emergency rental assistance programs and continues to update the database as a part of Mass Housing Partnership’s Massachusetts Housing Toolbox.

We Invite municipalities to use these new resources and visit the Massachusetts Housing Toolbox at the link below.

Additional Resources

Guidance for Tenants: Eviction Moratorium in Massachusetts

The Eviction Moratorium has been extended to October 17, 2020

Governor Charlie Baker recently approved a new law that helps protect tenants during the COVID-19 state of emergency.  It is important for tenants to understand their rights and responsibilities under this law.

Guidance for Tenants – Moratorium on Evictions during the COVID-19 Emergency

For a limited time, in most cases, this law prohibits your landlord from:

  • Filing for eviction (“summary process”) in court; or
  • Sending you any notice terminating your lease or demanding that you leave your unit.
  • Your landlord can still send you other kinds of notices, including a statement of amounts you owe.

During this time, no court can:

  • Accept a “summary process” filing for eviction.
  • Schedule a court hearing on an eviction.
  • Enter a judgment in an eviction case.
  • Issue an order (called an “execution”) allowing the landlord to have you and your belongings removed from your unit by the sheriff.

Please see our additional resources below to learn about how you can protect your household during the COVID-19 State of Emergency. Resources include a form you can use to inform your landlord or management company of any COVID-19 related financial hardships or increased costs. Please see our guidance on tenant rights and responsibilities during the COVID-19 emergency and instruction on how to fill out the form provided.

Additional Resources

Federal CARES Act Policy Changes and Funding Program Information

 

Included in the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act are funding programs that will supplement the state and local response to the COVID-19 crisis, as well as several policy changes that impact Massachusetts residents. For further information on new funding opportunities related to federal programs managed by DHCD, please visit the following websites. EOHED and DHCD will continue to update both sites:

Community Services and State/Municipal Supports in the CARES Act for CDBG, CSBG, LIHEAP, and other programs.

Housing in the CARES Act for ESG, HOPWA, Public Housing Operating Funds, and more.

CDBG Substantial Amendment #2 - Federal CARES Act Update 9/11/20

Emergency Housing Assistance Programs

During the Covid-19 crisis, DHCD field offices will not be open to the public for in person applications.

To apply for Emergency Assistance and speak with a Homeless Coordinator please call (866) 584-0653

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