The Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC)

Important Emergency Rental Assistance Update - Federal Program Will Stop Taking New Applications Soon; Targeted State Program Will Continue

The federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) will stop accepting new applications on or around April 15, 2022. Households will still be able to apply for rental assistance from the more targeted, state-funded Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program.

Applications for rental assistance received after April 15th will be considered for assistance under the more targeted state-funded RAFT program, subject to funding availability. Households can apply by submitting an online application. The state RAFT program may provide up to up to $10,000 per household in a 12-month period for rent and other housing costs, including moving expenses. For households applying to RAFT for assistance with rent arrears, a notice to quit or eviction notice/court summons is now required. Homeowners can continue to access the federal Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).

Free legal aid is available to assist low-income tenants with referrals, legal information, and legal representation for evictions statewide. More information is available here, or you can go to https://hedfuel.azurewebsites.net/ to find a legal aid program near you. Massachusetts Community Mediation Centers also offer free pre-court mediation between landlords and tenants for COVID-19 related lease disputes in addition to the summary process cases referred through the courts.

Discrimination by a landlord is prohibited

Landlords should be aware that Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws prohibits discrimination by a landlord against any tenant receiving federal, state, or local housing subsidies, including rental assistance or rental supplements, because the individual is such a recipient.

A landlord's refusal to accept emergency rental assistance, that covers the entire amount owed to the landlord, may, in some circumstances, constitute a violation of Chapter 151B.  Landlords should consult their own legal counsel for advice before declining rental assistance that covers all outstanding rent arrears.

  • The Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) program ended on December 31, 2021. Homeowners may be eligible for assistance through the Homeowners Assistance Fund. To learn more about eligibility, resources and apply, homeowners can visit www.massmortgagehelp.org.
  • At this time, the MA Emergency Housing payment Assistance Application is not accepting applications from homeowners. Homeowners in need of mortgage assistance or other housing assistance may apply for the new Homeowner Assistance Fund (MA HAF) Program. Please visit this link to learn more about HAF and to see if you may be eligible. To apply to Mass HAF, visit www.massmortgagehelp.org.

Program Description/Services

The Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) provides a variety of services to tenants, landlords, homeowners, future homebuyers, homeless individuals and families along with individuals and families facing eviction, foreclosure, who are not eligible for DTA services. This service is provided through information and referral, individual counseling, homelessness prevention programs, workshops, and seminars.

Service Area

Acton, Ashland, Boxborough, Canton, Carlisle, Concord, Dedham, Dover, Foxborough, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hudson, Lincoln, Littleton, Marlborough, Maynard, Medfield, Medway, Millis, Natick, Needham, Norfolk, Norwood, Plainville, Sharon, Sherborn, Stoughton, Stow, Sudbury, Walpole, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, Westwood, Wrentham.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Households of any size or composition at risk of being displaced or forced to leave their home due to an unforeseen housing emergency or a COVID-19 related employment loss.
  • The household income must be below 80% of the area median income (AMI)
  • Restrictions apply on rental assistance for families residing in subsidized housing or who have a rental voucher
  • For most of this funding, citizenship or immigration status is not an issue.

The HCEC works with state and federally funded homelessness prevention grants including:

  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT)
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency grant (FEMA)

Financial assistance is limited based on funding, eligibility and service area.

Application Process

Important Information prior to submitting online RAFT application:

  • If you are moving, you must have an apartment lined up before starting the RAFT process. Do not move until RAFT application has been approved!
  • RAFT does NOT reimburse clients after payments have already been made. All approved cases are paid directly to the Landlord or 3rd party vendor.
  • In order to complete this form, you will need full names, social security numbers and date of birth for all household members. Names must match what is on government issued IDs.
  • You will be required to report all household income - please use gross income. This will be verified throughout the application process, please have pay-stubs or award letters ready (dated within 60 days).
  • CLICK HERE to Upload Documents and More Application Information
  • For all clients unable to submit an online application and wishes to request that a paper application is mailed/sent out to them, please contact our HCEC Hotline at 508-872-0765 OR email us at HCEC@smoc.org with subject line: Request for paper app.

Completion of this online process does not guarantee eligibility, approval or payment.

Enrolling in RAFT:

APPLY HERE

For all clients unable to submit an online application and wishes to request that a paper application is mailed/sent out to them, please contact our HCEC Hotline at 508-872-0765 OR email us at HCEC@smoc.org with subject line: Request for paper app.

Completion of this online process does not guarantee eligibility, approval or payment. Please check your email to respond to the follow-up questions.

**RAFT does not have an immigration status requirement and households of any immigration status are welcome to apply. However, the following pre-application requires the Social Security Number field to be filled in for all household members. The software will not allow you to submit your pre-application without something filled in in those fields. If someone in your household does not have a SSN, please submit 888-88-8888 as their SSN.*

Contact Information

HCEC Department – Framingham
Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm

HCEC Department – Marlborough
By appointment on Thursdays only
HCEC Hotline: 508-872-0765
HCEC email: HCEC@smoc.org

Workshops

Important Links