Statewide COVID-19 emergency rental assistance program seeks applicants 

BOSTON – The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is reminding tenants facing financial challenges due to the lasting impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic that help is available through the Baker-Polito Administration’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP). The program leverages federal funding for eligible low-income tenants in need of financial assistance to help pay overdue rent and utilities with the goal of preventing evictions.   

“Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected so many – from reduced hours at work or job losses, to lack of childcare and more, the Baker-Polito Administration has established a nation-leading rental assistance program that so far has assisted more than 40,000 households remain in their homes,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy.  “While the goal is to prevent evictions, it is not necessary for applicants to be faced with eviction in order to be eligible.  We continue to encourage all tenants who may be falling behind in rent and utilities as a result of the pandemic to apply today.”  

There is no charge to apply for rental assistance and help with applying for assistance is available also free of charge.  In an effort to streamline and expedite the application process, DHCD simplified requirements for documentation.  To receive funding quickly, eligible applicants only need to prove each of the following: 

·         ID for head of household 

·         Proof of current housing 

·         Verification of housing crisis 

·         Verification of income  

Additionally, tenants are encouraged to reach out early to their landlords, and inform them about an ERAP application. Landlords or property management companies will be needed to complete the process.  

Tenants facing an eviction can also benefit from new protections in Massachusetts. If tenants have a pending rental assistance application at any of the regional agencies, the eviction process cannot be fully executed in court. Getting an application in before an eviction begins will give tenants the best opportunity to stay in their home. 

“The pandemic has had disproportionate impacts on our most vulnerable communities and neighborhoods across Massachusetts, and we want to remind households in need that help is available,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox.  “Over the past 12 months, we’ve scaled up our rental assistance program to match the urgency required by this situation.  With a pool of state and federal resources, a streamlined application process, and simplified criteria for eligibility, we can process more applications at a faster rate than ever before.  So we strongly encourage all tenants that have fallen behind to seek help now.” 

ERAP is part of DCHD’s COVID-19 Eviction Diversion Initiative (EDI), the Commonwealth’s strategy to keep tenants safely in their homes and to support the ongoing expenses of landlords.  Launched in October 2020 in partnership with the Trial Court, the Eviction Diversion Initiative provides mediation services, case management services, and legal aid – as well as state and federal rental assistance funds – and has contributed to Massachusetts residential eviction filings decreasing to less than 50 percent of the rate prior to the pandemic. 

Free application assistance can be found by calling toll-free at 1-800-474-1822. The helpline is open Monday through Friday, between 9:00 A.M. – 8:30 P.M., and Saturday between 9:00 A.M. – 4:30 P.M. The online application for can be found here: