How much funding is available through State Funded Housing Assistance programs?
And what are the differences between the programs?
UPDATED March 2021
The new Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) leverages new federal funding for eligible low-income tenants who are in need of financial assistance. With the launch of the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program, applicants should not notice significant changes in the application process, and may be eligible to receive funds from either ERAP, RAFT, or ERMA.
How does the new Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program differ from RAFT and ERMA?
There are key differences in program requirements:
- COVID-19 Impact: Renters must be able to provide a statement attesting to unemployment, decreased wages, or increased expenses due to COVID-19.
- Higher Benefit and Longer-term relief: Households may be eligible for up to twelve (12) months of rental arrears (plus an extra 3 months if funding allows and need is demonstrated), as well as overdue utilities arrears up to $1,500. All rent and utility arrears must have been, accrued after 3/13/20.
- Under RAFT/ERMA, renters and landlords may receive up to $10,000 during state of emergency and up to $7,000 for six months after end of state of emergency.
- Higher income eligibility: Renters applying for assistance may earn up to 80% of Area Median Income (AMI). Visit our agency locator to determine a region’s AMI.
- For comparison, RAFT has an income eligibility limit of 50% AMI (60% for Domestic Violence); ERMA has the same eligibility limit of 80% AMI.
- Use limits: Renters may only receive help with rent and utilities accrued since March 13, 2020.
RAFT/ERMA can help with mortgage payments. Additionally, RAFT/ERMA can also provide assistance regardless of COVID-19 impacts.
Important Information for Boston tenants: The Federal government is providing funds for emergency rent and utility assistance to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and also directly to the City of Boston. The City of Boston is setting up their own program to cover Boston residents. If you live in Boston, you may wish to apply to their program.
You cannot receive assistance from both the City and the State at the same time. This is only applicable to tenants living in the city of Boston
Can a landlord apply for RAFT, COVID RAFT, or ERMA?
Any income eligible homeowner in Massachusetts can still apply for RAFT or ERMA assistance under the ERAP program for their own mortgage payment if they are at risk of falling behind.
Now, landlords who own up to 20 housing units can apply directly for rental assistance on behalf of eligible residents. For more information about how to apply, please visit our landlord page.
If I am a landlord who agrees to accept funding, do I lose my right to evict the tenant?
A landlord who accepts ERAP funding does not lose the ability to file for eviction due to lease violations that may occur in the future. In all cases, the landlord enters into an agreement which provides that, so long as the tenant is paying the agreed upon monthly tenant share of rent and not violating other clauses of the lease, the landlord will not initiate an eviction.
The landlord may file for eviction under the following situations:
- During (or after) the ERAP period of agreement, the tenant violates a lease clause that is unrelated to payment of rent.
During (or after) the ERAP period of agreement, the tenant does not meet the monthly rent payment obligation that is stated in the agreement.
After the end of the ERAP period of agreement, the tenant does not pay rent or otherwise violates the lease.
Does a landlord have to agree to a proposed settlement that would involve forgiveness of arrearages?
Or acceptance of reduced rent for the period of the agreement?
Forgiveness of arrearages or acceptance of reduced rent are not program requirements.
What happens if a tenant moves out of the unit before the ERAP agreement ends?
The rental assistance agreement includes the following line: “If the Participant's tenancy is terminated prior to the period for which any monthly rental stipend payments were made, I agree to return the unused balance of said funds to the Agency.”
The onus is on the landlord to report a move-out to the Regional Administering Agency.
If a tenant’s income increases, does the rental assistance agreement change?
No, the agreement signed by the tenant and landlord remains in effect for its stated term, unless the parties agree to amend it.
Can a tenant apply for ERAP if they have already received up to $10,000 in RAFT...
... or ERMA or HomeBASE benefits over the last 12 months?
Yes. However, the ERAP will not pay for any period of rent already covered by RAFT, ERMA, or HomeBASE.
Households may be eligible for up to 15 months of assistance from the ERAP program (up to 12 months of arrears plus an additional 3 months of stipends, if need is demonstrated and funds are available).
What if a tenant loses income and can’t afford the rent they agreed to pay in the agreement?
The tenant should contact the landlord and rental assistance agency. If both parties are amenable to changing the agreement, the tenant would not have to reapply, but they would need to execute a new agreement. The new agreement would still need to comply with all ERAP requirements.
If the tenant is unable to pay their share and defaults on the rental assistance agreement, then a landlord can begin eviction proceedings, by issuing a Notice to Quit.
NOTE: In some cases, the CARES Act may require a landlord to give 30 days’ notice for nonpayment, depending on the type of financing that the landlord has and whether the landlord has sought mortgage forbearance – consult an attorney for guidance.
NOTE: the CDC moratorium, which limits residential evictions for qualifying tenants, has been extended through the end of June, 2021.
|Last updated:||April 14, 2021|