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Emergency Housing Assistance during COVID-19

The Department of Housing and Community Development is ready to help families in need during the COVID-19 health crisis.

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Get help now with rent and mortgage payments

Are you having trouble paying your rent or mortgage because of the COVID-19 pandemic? Have you lost your job or lost income during the Covid-19 health crisis? Are you at risk of becoming homeless?

You may be eligible to receive help with paying your rent or mortgage. The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) offers two programs that can assist low-income households. Find Spanish language resources about these programs.

The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) programs may provide income-eligible households with up to $10,000 to pay overdue or future rent or mortgage costs. You can apply to both programs at one of eleven regional agencies.

Please use the tool linked below to find your regional agency and see the income limits for eligibility in your region based on household size. You can also call 2-1-1 for more information.

Details on the RAFT and ERMA programs

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Program

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 helps all kinds of households by providing up to $10,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.

Funding can be used for a variety of needs, including rent or mortgage arrears, security deposits, or other expenses to help households obtain or maintain stable housing. Households with incomes up to 50% of Area Median Income (AMI)*, or 60% of AMI for people who are at risk of homelessness because of domestic violence, are eligible for assistance.

Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program (ERMA)

ERMA can provide rental and mortgage assistance to low-income households who have been impacted by the crisis and may not be eligible for RAFT. This program is available for households within the 50-80% range of Area Median Income (AMI). Like RAFT, 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.

Use the agency lookup tool above to determine regional income levels to assess their eligibility. These can also be found here: ERMA Area Median Income Information.

Foreclosure and forbearance information for homeowners

Beyond the financial assistance available through RAFT and ERMA detailed above, there are additional resources available for homeowners concerned about paying their mortgage due to the coronavirus national emergency. It is important that you contact your mortgage servicer (the company where you send your monthly payments) as soon as possible to let them know about your current circumstances.

The Federal CARES Act provides protections for owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties with mortgages that are federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) backed or funded (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac). You can learn about your options, find out if you quality, and request forbearance or mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau website.

A forbearance means that the monthly mortgage payments that you would otherwise have been required to pay to your lender/servicer are not required to be made for a period of 180 days. If your mortgage was not in default prior to the forbearance period, the mortgage will not go into default by reason of your missed monthly mortgage payments during the 180-day forbearance period. A forbearance does not mean that these monthly mortgage payments are forgiven. You still owe the mortgage loan payments, but they will be added to the end of the mortgage loan term

It is also important to remember that a forbearance is not automatic. You need to contact your lender/servicer to request a forbearance and affirm that you have experienced a negative financial impact due to COVID-19.

 

Remember, you may also be eligible for mortgage assistance under the state’s RAFT or ERMA program.  Contact your regional housing agency, where you can connect to various resources, including emergency assistance for eligible owner-occupants of 1-4 family homes. You can find your regional housing agency by clicking here or call 2-1-1 for more information.

The Massachusetts Division of Banks has compiled an extensive list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the eviction and foreclosure moratorium for more detailed information.

Federal Resources

A federal law passed on March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, puts in place protections for homeowners with mortgages that are federally or Government Sponsored Enterprise (GSE) backed or funded (FHA, VA, USDA, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac).

If your ability to pay your mortgage is impacted, and your loan is owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (use the "loan lookup" tools for Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac to find out), you may be eligible to delay making your monthly mortgage payments for a temporary period

You can learn about your options, find out if you quality, and request forbearance or mortgage relief by visiting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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