Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter - Length of Stay Policy

There is a new 9-month time limit for families in the Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter program to transition out of shelter and into stable housing. This policy was signed into law in April 2024. This page for families living in EA Shelter has information on the law and how it will impact them.

Table of Contents

Background

It is the Healey-Driscoll Administration’s goal to ensure that shelter is temporary, supportive, and non-recurring and the 9-month time limit is intended to support the goal of rapid rehousing

Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter will continue to serve as an essential safety net program for unhoused families in Massachusetts and the Administration is committed to the long-term success and independence of every family enrolled in Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter. 

Overview: Video Summary of Policy

Overview: What is the Length of Stay policy?

The Massachusetts Legislature has passed a new law that sets a 9-month limit on families’ time in the Emergency Assistance (EA) Family Shelter program. Under the new law, families will have 9 months to transition out of EA shelter and into stable housing. 

When does the policy come into effect? 

  • The 9-month limit will be implemented over time and will not affect all families immediately. 
  • Initial written notices (see details below) will go out in July. When families receive a termination notice, it will be 90 days before their shelter benefit expires. 
  • Your family’s length of stay will be determined based on your date of placement in Emergency Assistance (EA) Family shelter. 
     

What kinds of official notices will families receive?

We will begin to send notices in early July. At that time, families who have been in shelter for more than 9 months will receive one of the three following notices:

  1. "Ineligible for First 90-day Extension" - This is a notice of termination indicating that your family is not eligible for an extension and will need to leave shelter within 90 days.
  2. "Eligible for First 90-day Extension" - This is a notice explaining that your family received a 90-day extension and can stay in shelter for additional time, but you still have a termination date to leave shelter (which will be included in the notice).
  3. "Administrative Extension" - This is a notice explaining that your family has been in shelter for more than 9 months, but has not yet been selected for termination. This notice is because the policy is being implemented over time and families will be selected in small groups each month. 

Where can I read the official Program Guidance for implementing this law?

  • Read the Emergency Assistance (“EA”) Program Guidance on Nine-Month Length of Stay. This Guidance issued by the Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC) creates the processes for implementing the 9-month limit. This includes how a family will be notified of their 9-month limit and how eligibility for extensions and hardship waivers will be determined. 
  • Based on this guidance, this webpage also explains some of the key details of the policy's implementation.

Timing: How will my family know when we need to leave shelter?

  • Families will receive notice 90 days before you are required to exit EA shelter as a result of the new 9-month time limit. 
  • Families will be emailed notices and provided a paper copy by their providers. 
  • Families who have an email address on file will also receive email reminder notices at 40 days, 20 days and 10 days prior to their termination date. Please make sure your provider has an active email address for you.

Extensions: Can my family stay longer than 9 months?

Families may have the option to extend shelter for up to two 90-day periods or 'extensions' if you meet certain criteria (see below) specified in the law. This means there is a maximum of 180-days where a family’s time in shelter can be extended. In some limited cases, there is a possibility of a Hardship Waiver after the two 90-day extensions have been given. 

What do families have to do to get an extension?

  • Families do not have to apply for extensions themselves. 
  • Before issuing your family with a termination notice, EOHLC (Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities) will review your family’s most recent 60-day Rehousing Assessment (RHA) to determine your eligibility for an extension. The RHA is a document that you complete with your Case Manager or Housing Search Worker in one of your Re-Housing meetings.  The RHA has been updated to screen for all possible extension criteria.
  • Extensions will be determined using your most recent 60-day Re-Housing Assessment (RHA). First extension decisions will be provided in the initial 90-day notice to families.
What are the criteria for extension?

EOHLC will use the following criteria, created by the Legislature, to assess families’ eligibility for up to 2 extensions of 90 days each. This information will be gathering in the family's 60-Day Re-Housing Assessment:

  • A family member is employed, or participating in job training programs, including any authorized or approved training program as defined in the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development’s guidance;
  • A family member is qualified as a veteran  and is not enrolled in services specifically targeted to support veterans; 
  • The family has an imminent housing placement, within the next month;
  • The family is seeking to avoid educational interruptions for a child or children enrolled in public schools;
  • A family member is pregnant or has given birth in the last 3 months;
  • A family member has been diagnosed with a disability or documented medical condition;
  • A family member is a single parent, stepparent, legal guardian or caretaker caring for a disabled child or family member;
  • A family member is a single parent, stepparent, legal guardian or caretaker with insufficient child or dependent care necessary to obtain or continue employment;
  • The family is at imminent risk of harm due to domestic violence.
Are families required to submit documents for their extensions?
  • EOHLC may request supporting documents to verify a family’s eligibility for an extension. 

How do the two possible 90-day extensions work? 

How does the first 90-day extension work? 
  • First extension decisions will be provided in the initial 90-day notice to families. Families who receive their first extension will be eligible for a second extension if they continue to meet one or more extension criteria (see above).
  • Extensions will be determined using families’ most recent 60-day Rehousing Assessment. You must have an up-to-date 60-day Rehousing Assessment requirement to receive an extension.
  • If a family does not receive a first extension, you have 14 days to work with your case manager to update their Rehousing Assessment. EOHLC (Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities) will review Rehousing Assessments again after this period and notify all families of EOHLC’s final extension decision.
  • We expect the majority of families that receive a first 90-day extension will also receive a second 90-day extension for a maximum of 180-days.
How can families get a second extension?
  • Families must have a Rehousing Assessment updated in the last 60 days. If they meet at least one of the extension criteria screened for in the Rehousing Assessment, they will be granted a second extension. 

Hardship Waivers: Can families get more than the two 90-day extensions?

  • Families can submit for a Hardship Waiver after they receive two extensions.
  • Hardship waivers must be submitted at least 30 days before the date your family is required to exit shelter.
  • If a family receives a hardship waiver, they will remain eligible for shelter for up to an additional 120 days.
Who can get a Hardship Waiver?

Families can submit for a hardship waiver if they have certain medical concerns or clinical vulnerabilities:  

  1. Family member aged 0-3 months
  2. Family member with immunocompromised condition
  3. Family member with high-risk pregnancy
  4. Family member with medical device (tracheostomy only)
  5. Risk of imminent harm due to child protection or domestic violence concerns. 

Appeals: How do I appeal an extension denial or hardship waiver denial?

  • Families can appeal their termination of shelter benefits. Families can appeal when there are no more options available to extend their shelter stay.  You could appeal a termination if EOHLC (Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities) denies you an extension or a hardship waiver. 
  • Appeal requests must be received within 21 calendar days of the date of the termination notice. 
  • Appeals can be submitted by fax, email, or mail. Families should submit both the termination notice and the appeal form to the Hearings Division. Providers will support families in submitting these documents and supply the appropriate fax number, email address, and mailing address.  

What should I do to get ready to leave shelter?

We understand that moving from shelter to housing takes a lot of work.  You should keep working with your case manager to prepare to leave shelter and move into stable housing.

If you have found housing – by yourself or with others - and need help to pay expenses, the HomeBASE program could help. HomeBASE provides up to $30,000 over 2 years, with the possibility of another $15,000 over a 3rd year. If you would like to learn more, speak to your Case Manager or Housing Search Specialist or visit the HomeBASE webpage.

Can families reapply to EA Family Shelter after they have exited due to the 9-month time limit?

  • Families who have reached their time limit will be allowed to re-apply for the EA program, subject to the waitlist and prioritization process, if they exited shelter prior to their termination date. 
  • Families who have not vacated their unit by their termination date will be subject to a 12-month re-entry bar. 

Where can I get more information?

  • This webpage will be regularly updated, so please visit on an ongoing basis for additional information.
  • If you need help understanding the policy talk to your Shelter Provider staff. 
  • If you need emotional or mental health support at this time, you can call ‘Call2Talk’ at 508-532-2255. Call2Talk offers confidential and compassionate emotional and mental health support. It operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Translation is available.

What other resources are there to help my family? (job search, food, immigration, housing, etc.)

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