COVID-19 Resource: Emergency Rental Relief Programs

The Need

In a moment of unprecedented economic disruption and job losses, many economically vulnerable households – some of whom already routinely struggle to afford their housing – are now facing the possibility of eviction. While state and local eviction moratoriums (more info here) are critical to keeping families in their homes throughout the duration of the crisis, these stop-gap measures cannot ensure that families will stay housed once the moratoriums are lifted and they are faced with an overwhelming rental or mortgage arrearage. So, while many households have been temporarily spared eviction, it is critical that they seek out assistance now.

Opportunities for Rental Relief

Many towns, organizations, and foundations have moved quickly to organize funds that will provide small grants to families in need – this includes small contributions toward rent (usually less than $1,000), as well as funding for other basic needs. These funds can complement other forms of assistance, including unemployment, and help to make up for destabilizing income losses. In some cases, funds can be applied for online, whereas others are being administered through social service agencies who have experience with rental assistance programs. Grants are being rapidly distributed and many relief programs have already exhausted their available funding and are waiting to open up additional rounds of grant distribution – with this in mind, it is critical that anyone looking for assistance respond quickly to apply for these funds.

We have organized a list of town-wide rental relief funds and other opportunities for individual basic needs grants. As towns and organizations continue to put together funds, we will provide updates there.

In addition to the numerous funds that have been created to provide assistance during COVID-19, many programs that routinely provide emergency rental assistance (including our programs) are continuing to operate remotely, some with additional funding. This includes the state-funded Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program which has received an infusion of $5 million additional funds to respond to the crisis, as well as other, smaller programs and organizations across the state. If you are unfamiliar with the rental assistance programs in your area, the United Way 2-1-1 hotline can help to connect you with those resources and other services.

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