COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative Overview

A comprehensive set of resources to support tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Baker-Polito Administration announced a comprehensive set of resources to support tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the pandemic. The goal of this initiative is to keep tenants safely in their homes and to support the ongoing expenses of landlords once the pause of evictions and foreclosures expired on Saturday, October 17, 2020. This strategy was developed by a cross-agency team assembled by the Administration in coordination with the Massachusetts Trial Court to manage the end of the moratorium on October 17, 2020 and reflects input from a broad range of stakeholders.

Table of Contents

Funding Highlights - Original EDI Commitment

$171 million total commitment in FY21, with $112 million of new funding to support new and expanded housing stability programs during the remainder of the fiscal year. Key highlights:

  • $100 million in emergency rental assistance through RAFT.
  • Up to $12.3 million to provide tenants and landlords with access to legal representation and related services prior to and during the eviction process, as well as community mediation to bring tenants and landlords together to find a resolution.
  • Nearly $50 million for post-eviction rapid rehousing.

Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

March 2021

On March 22, 2021, Massachusetts launched the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP), which provided expanded rental relief to eligible tenants, alongside the existing RAFT program. The ERAP program stopped accepting new applications on April 15, 2022. Read more about emergency housing assistance programs during COVID-19 here.

EXPANSION Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT)

Massachusetts will provide nearly $100 million in additional funding and streamline the application process, allowing landlords with 20 or fewer units to apply with tenant consent. The maximum RAFT benefit is $10,000. 

EXPANSION Housing Consumer Education Centers (HCECs)

The nine regional HCECs represent the “front door” for residents to access many state and federal programs. HCECs manage the RAFT program on behalf of DHCD, and new funding has enabled agencies to hire Special Housing Counselors to help households with more complicated needs navigate available resources.

NEW Community Mediation Pre-Court

Mediation services are widely available for renters and landlords to support pre-court and pre-trial settlement of eviction cases. Mediation can be particularly helpful in situations where agreement cannot be reached through ERAP or RAFT benefits alone.

Details and frequently asked questions.

NEW COVID Eviction Legal Help Project

Through the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project (CELHP) six legal aid programs will assist low-income tenants, and the Volunteer Lawyers Project will provide legal assistance for low-income owner-occupants of 2- and 3-family homes.

EXPANSION Upstream Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP)

The current TPP assists households where a family member has a disability and has a tremendous success rate in keeping vulnerable families housed through mediation with a neutral third party. The initiative expands this program to serve other vulnerable households, including those eligible for Family Emergency Assistance and low-income seniors.

EXPANSION HomeBASE and Rapid Rehousing

As an additional safety-net, HomeBASE, the Commonwealth’s rapid rehousing benefit, and the Strategic Prevention Initiative (SPI) have been expanded and continue to offer financial assistance and stabilization case management services to families as they are in the process of securing stable housing. 

Interactive EDI Dashboards

Dashboards include summary statistics about each of the Massachusetts COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative programs and are updated on a monthly basis.

Eviction Diversion Initiative Dashboard

Outreach

To spread the word about the Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI), DHCD contracted with Archipelago Strategies Group (ASG) to conduct a focused grassroots outreach campaign about the state’s emergency housing payment assistance programs. ASG partnered with community organizations and local residents to implement a three-pronged outreach campaign from October 2021 to January 2022 consisting of canvassing, a call center, and a media campaign. More information is available on the campaign webpage.

Information Available

The Administration will be doing broad outreach to stakeholders with information on resources and how to access them. In addition, Mass 2-1-1 is available to answer questions and refer people to assistance. For web information, visit: www.mass.gov/CovidHousingHelp.

Last updated: November 30, 2021
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