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Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Highlights Expanded Access to Housing for Vulnerable Communities

New housing vouchers will help homeless families exit shelter and build new affordable housing
For immediate release:
3/12/2021
  • Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development
  • Housing and Community Development
  • Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Highlights Expanded Access to Housing for Vulnerable Communities

Michael Verseckes, Director of Media and Public Relations

BOSTONToday, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito joined Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox to highlight expanded access to housing for vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth. Beginning in Fiscal Year 2021, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has expanded the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) to make more rental vouchers available to more households in need. An additional 767 MRVP vouchers and 157 AHVP vouchers have been made available and targeted to specific, vulnerable populations.
 
“Our administration has long recognized the need for more affordable housing in Massachusetts, and the challenges created by the pandemic have  made this need even more clear,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Since entering office, we have been proud to invest more than $1.4 billion in the development and preservation of affordable housing, and we look forward to this expansion of our state voucher program providing safe, affordable housing to more households across the Commonwealth.”
 
“As we continue to navigate the pandemic, our administration remains committed to supporting the needs of our most vulnerable communities,” said Lt. Governor Polito. “The expansion of these programs will help hundreds of families, individuals and victims of domestic violence move out of shelter and into permanent housing, helping them move forward, find stability and pursue their goals.”
 
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program provides deep rental subsidies to low-income individuals and households. Currently, vouchers support nearly 8,900 households across the Commonwealth. More than 5,000 of these vouchers are mobile vouchers, meaning they can be used by families in search of housing available on the private market. The remaining vouchers, known as project-based vouchers, are used to support long-term affordability in specific housing developments. The expansion highlighted today will help households living in family, individual and domestic violence shelters move into permanent housing. Additionally, 100 vouchers will support the development of new permanent supportive housing for individuals.
 
“I want to thank our partners in the Legislature for their commitment to housing our most vulnerable families and for increasing access to affordable housing through the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy. “We are thrilled that more households will get access to this resource at the same time communities are now able to leverage the zoning reforms recently signed into law to create more housing that meets the needs of communities across the Commonwealth.”
 
The expansion of AHVP vouchers, which are available to non-elderly individuals with disabilities, will help meet strong demand for this program. DHCD is also working with the agencies that manage AHVP vouchers to increase utilization rates by increasing the value of these vouchers, and providing greater flexibility for agencies to deploy this resource.
 
“Here in Massachusetts we have an incredible ecosystem of service organizations, affordable housing developers, safety net providers, and legislators who are committed to the long-term, hard work of lifting up all our most vulnerable households and creating the conditions for people to thrive here,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox. “The expansion of the MRVP and AHVP vouchers will make a permanent, long-term positive impact on hundreds of households who will be able to leave shelter, and will help us create more permanent supportive housing for our most vulnerable populations.”
 
“These vital housing stability programs make an immense difference in peoples’ lives, and I am pleased that they will be expanded to help more vulnerable people and families in the Commonwealth,” said Senator Michael J. Rodrigues, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means. “Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration for their commitment to increasing housing opportunities for the Massachusetts residents who need it the most during this public health emergency.”

In October, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the Eviction Diversion Initiative, a multi-pronged strategy to prevent evictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since last spring, the administration has delivered more than $50 million in emergency rental and mortgage assistance to roughly 13,000 unique households. This initiative combines substantial emergency financial assistance, along with new, free or low-cost legal aid for low-income tenants and low-income homeowners who live in a home with rental units, and new, free mediation through the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration to help tenants and landlords solve lease problems together.

“These MRVPs are a life-line for 64 domestic violence survivors who have been in emergency shelter for over a year. With these vouchers, survivors and their children will be able to move out of shelter into housing of their own, grow new roots, become part of a community, heal from the trauma of abuse, and flourish. And shelters will be able to once again open their doors to survivors who call from a hospital emergency department, or from their car, or from the grocery store fleeing and in need of a safe place to go,” said Stephanie Brown, CEO, Casa Myrna. “Casa Myrna thanks the Lt. Governor, DHCD and the Legislature for these life-saving and life-changing resources.”

“Homes for Families thanks the legislature, and advocates throughout the state, and the Baker Administration for the funding of MRVP and the thoughtful distribution,” said Nicole Stewart, CEO, Homes for Families. “At a time when everyone is so vulnerable because of the pandemic, we know that families and children and individuals are safer when stably housed.  The distribution of these vouchers helps to ensure the movement of our most vulnerable communities out of shelters and into a place they can call home.  We needed a resource now - to keep the flow out of shelters, to give hope to families, children, and individuals in our communities, to help landlords, and to keep people safe and healthy.”

The Baker-Polito Administration has shown a deep commitment to increasing the production of housing across all income levels. Since 2015, the administration has invested more than $1.4 billion in affordable housing, resulting in the production and preservation of more than 20,000 housing units, including 18,000 affordable units. In 2018, Governor Baker signed the largest housing bond bill in Massachusetts history, committing more than $1.8 billion to the future of affordable housing production and preservation. This year, Governor Baker signed economic development legislation titled An Act Enabling Partnerships for Growth that includes substantial new funding for affordable and climate-resilient housing, as well as targeted zoning reforms to advance new housing production. The administration has also advanced the development of more than 17,000 mixed-income housing units through the successful MassWorks Infrastructure Program, reformed the Housing Development Incentive Program, and worked with communities to implement smart-growth development and planning efforts.

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Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Highlights Expanded Access to Housing for Vulnerable Communities

Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development 

The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development promotes vibrant communities, growing businesses, and a strong middle class.

Housing and Community Development 

DHCD oversees funding and resources to help people in Massachusetts live affordably and safely.

Office of Governor Charlie Baker and Lt. Governor Karyn Polito

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