Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program

The RAFT Program is a homelessness prevention program funded by the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). RAFT provides short-term financial assistance to low-income families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

The RAFT program helps keep households in stable housing situations when facing eviction, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies. RAFT can provide up to $7,000 per household within a 12-month period to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.

What is RAFT?

  • The RAFT program helps keep households in stable housing when facing eviction, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies  

  • RAFT helps all kinds of households by providing up to $7,000 per household, within a 12-month period, to help preserve current housing or move to new housing. RAFT can cover utilities, moving costs, and overdue rent, as well as future rent in limited situations. 

  • RAFT is administered by eleven Regional Administering Agencies (RAAs) as well as the Rental Assistance Processing (RAP) Center operated by Nan McKay and Associates (NMA). These twelve organizations process RAFT applications, request additional documentation as needed, and administer RAFT benefits (directly to the landlord or utility provider). Find contact information for your RAA here: https://hedfuel.azurewebsites.net/raa.aspx  

Am I eligible for RAFT?

Applicants must meet certain criteria to be eligible for RAFT:  

  • Risk of homelessness/housing instability (example: applicant has at least one month of overdue rent)  

  • Currently renting or moving to a new rental  

  • Income at or below 50% of Area Median Income (AMI), or 60% of AMI for households who are at risk of domestic violence (you can check AMI in your city/town using this online tool)

You can also use the eligibility checker tool here to see if you might be eligible for RAFT. 

How will my income be verified?

When you submit the application, you give consent to DHCD to search other state agency databases to see if your income has already been verified by another qualifying program. If your income can be verified with government databases, you will not have to submit any additional income documentation. If additional income documentation is needed, the organization processing your RAFT application will reach out to you to request it.  

What kind of assistance does RAFT provide?

  • RAFT may be used for the following costs:  

  • Rent arrears  

  • Prospective (future) rent payments (stipends) in limited situations 

  • Moving-related expenses (first/last/security, moving trucks, and furniture)  

  • Utilities 

  • The maximum benefit cap for RAFT is $7,000 over a 12-month period.  

How do I apply for RAFT?

You can apply for RAFT online through the Commonwealth’s Central Application. It is important to submit a complete application for RAFT to receive support quickly. If approved for RAFT, funds will be paid directly to your landlord or utility provider. 

A step-by-step guide on how to apply for RAFT is available here.

Before you begin your application, be sure you have the following documents ready to upload:  

  • ID for Head of Household (expired or international forms of ID are acceptable) 

  • Verification of current housing (example: your current lease or rental agreement) 

  • Verification of eligible housing crisis and arrears (examples: a Notice to Quit from your landlord; a court summons for eviction; a letter/email from your landlord verifying that you have overdue rent) 

  • In addition to the documents listed above, an application for RAFT also requires documentation from your landlord/property owner. Be sure to provide contact information for your landlord/property owner in your RAFT application. Once you have submitted your application, your landlord/property owner will be asked to provide the following documents:    

  • W-9 for property owner 

  • Proof of ownership for unit 

How long does it take to submit an application and receive a RAFT award or denial?

The RAFT application takes between 20-50 minutes to complete. You cannot save and return to an application, so you must complete your application in one sitting.  

The time between submitting a RAFT application and receiving a RAFT award or denial varies. Applications with all required information and documentation will be processed more quickly than those with missing information and documentation. It is important that you complete your application to the best of your ability before submitting in order to receive an award or denial quickly.  

Once you submit your application through the online portal, a Regional Administering Agency (RAA) or the Rental Assistance Processing Center (RAP Center) will process your application. If your application is missing required information or documentation, staff from your local RAA will reach out to you to complete the application, which will add to the processing time for your application. If you do not provide the required information within two weeks, your application will be “timed out.” It is very important to submit a complete application. 

To check which agency is processing your application, visit the Central Application Portal at https://applyhousinghelp.mass.gov/  and click “Application Information.” You can also use the Central Application Portal to upload additional documents after your application is submitted. You must have your application number in order to submit documents or to determine which agency is processing your application. 

What resources are available for homeowners?

RAFT does not serve homeowners. Homeowners may be eligible for mortgage or other assistance under the state’s Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).  Find out more about HAF here.  

While many of the special protections for homeowners impacted by COVID-19 are no longer in effect, owner-occupants of 1-4 family properties still may be able to seek relief.   

You need to contact your lender/servicer to request assistance.  If you would like to speak with a foreclosure counselor regarding your options, a list of foreclosure counselors by region is available at https://www.chapa.org/housing-courses/foreclosure-and-rental-counseling-agencies. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) can also help you find a housing counseling agency (HCA). Learn more here.

If you are facing imminent foreclosure within the next 7 days, the Massachusetts Division of Banks may be able to help by reaching out to your mortgage servicer to grant an extra 60 days to work out an alternative to foreclosure. For information on how to request assistance, please visit: https://www.mass.gov/how-to/help-for-distressed-homeowners 

I have a question not answered here—where can I find more information?

You can find more information on RAFT and other housing resources by dialing 2-1-1, contacting your local Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC), or at the following links:  

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