The lack of affordable housing in Middlesex County Massachusetts leads to many tenants seeking eviction help. The number of low to moderate income families that are facing homelessness due to being in arrears on their rent or an outstanding legal matter continues to increase, but there are programs available that work to prevent evictions and the resulting homelessness.
One of the primary solutions available is due to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, which was created by the federal government. This program implemented a service known as ESG - Emergency Solutions Grants, and as a result of this there is money given to non-profits in cities such as Lowell, Cambridge, Newton and other Middlesex County towns.
All of this federal government funding used by these non-profits needs to be used for addressing housing issues. This means there may be grants available to pay for back rent, motel voucher programs, utility or security deposits, and even moving fees. Another use of the ESG program is to rapidly rehousing a family after they have gone through a housing crisis.
There are several sources of funding that are used to provide this form of assistance in the community. Not only may tenants with a pay or quit notice get help from regional non-profits such as the Somerville Homeless Coalition, government agencies including DHCD, or lawyers that work with pro-bono law firms in the region, but other charities also assist. Those are just some examples of where homeless prevention services are available at in Middlesex County, and many other groups also work on this major challenge.
The programs will both support income qualified households at imminent risk of eviction as well as those that may be faced with it in the not so distant future. There are a number of tools used to help clients. Money from ESG may be provided to pay for a portion of rental arrears. Or if the tenant is behind on other housing costs, such as heating bills or water costs, then funds can help with that as well. Other forms of financial assistance as well as case management can be used too.
When an eviction is imminent, the ESG program can even help re-locate the family to a more affordable home in the county. While this can be challenge in communities such as Cambridge or Somerville, all efforts will be made to rehouse an otherwise stable household. When this is an option, non-profits can help pay for lease application fees or a rental deposit on the new apartment. Or if the need is for other financial help in Middlesex County, that will be explored.
Follow up services will always be mandated. This will (when combined with legal support) help prevent future evictions. Case managers from agencies such as CASPAR, Inc. will meet with the client to review any challenges they have. Together a plan will be created (and needs to be followed) to address issues such as employment, credit repair, and more. All tenants will need to adhere to the follow up or funding can always be pulled from these programs.
Individuals that are in shelter, motels, or transitional housing units may apply for this. There is help for both the recently evicted and long term homeless. In all cases, the applicant will need to prove they can afford to pay for their future rental costs and other living expenses without relying on any emergency entitlement programs.
Rehousing encompasses all aspects of stopping homelessness. The client will be able to use databases to locate homes or low income apartments in all cities, including Lowell, Waltham, Framingham, Chelmsford and other communities. Case managers can assist with this search, and they also offer support from referrals to the state of Massachusetts RAFT program or HomeBase.
Once a property has been located, and self-sufficiency goals have been met, this is when rapid re-housing works at its best. Emergency Solution Grants help the family pay for all of these expenses. There is often priority given to certain situations. This may be those that have been recently evicted, the disabled, single mothers, and senior citizens among others. In other words, the truly vulnerable in Middlesex County can also seek rehousing.
The application processes for eviction or rehousing help varies. In general, a household in MiddleSex County needs to be out of resources, and they need to be able to document the fact they have no friends, family, or charitable support networks to rely on. In addition, residents need to prove they can keep up with their rent and stabilize their living situation with a period of months.
For more information on eviction prevention programs, call the Housing Services Center at 508-872-0765 or dial 508-620-2335 for additional support.
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