Housing Assistance and Eviction & Foreclosure Moratorium for Residential & Commercial Properties
Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA)
The Town of Norwood in partnership with the South Middlesex Opportunity Council (SMOC) is pleased to announce a new grant program, the Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance Program (ERMA). The new grant program has been established from Federal funding made available from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The grant program will provide financial assistance to income qualified individuals that have suffered financial hardship from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic. Grant funds can be used to help pay for rent, mortgage and utility payments. In order to qualify for this funding, a household must meet the following criteria at the time of application:
- Currently rent or own a house as a primary residence in Massachusetts;
- Have income that is between 50-80% of the Area Median Income (AMI); and
- Have a housing emergency due to a financial hardship related to or exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis (as verified through documentation or a written self-certification consistent with this Administrative Plan).
- For those seeking general/financial assistance please complete the online RAFT/ERMA Pre-Application at https://www.waitlistcheck.com/MA2977-1916 or call the Housing Consumer Education Center hotline at 508-872-0765 for more information
- RAFT/ERMA online pre-applications are prioritized in the order that they are received. All clients are contacted by a SMOC staff once the online pre-application is received. For homeless families seeking shelter please call HCEC Intake Specialist, Amandalee Deleon Campos at 508-872-4853 x 2171.
- For all other questions/concerns please email the HCEC Department at HCEC@smoc.org
Residential Assistance for Families in Transition
The Department of Housing & Community Development has made a new $5 million fund available under the RAFT program. The RAFT program helps keep eligible households who may face eviction, foreclosure, loss of utilities, and other housing emergencies as a result of COVID-19. RAFT funding is distributed by Regional Administering Agencies. RAFT funding assists households of all sizes and configurations with financial assistance up to $4,000 per household to help preserve current housing or move to new housing.
Apply for Affordable Housing
State-aided public housing is available for low-income families, elderly, or individuals with disabilities in buildings owned by the Local Housing Authorities throughout 240 cities and towns in Massachusetts.
For eligibility or to apply, visit https://publichousingapplication.ocd.state.ma.us/. For more information about this, please contact the Department of Housing & Community Development at 617-573-1100. If you are interested in applying for vouchers or federal public housing, please contact the Norwood Housing Authority located at 40 William Shyne Circle, call at (781) 762- 8115, or visit http://www.norwoodha.org/Home.aspx
Suspension of Evictions at Housing Authorities
All state-aided public housing operators (including Local Housing Authorities) have been directed to suspend pending essential evictions and the filing of any new non-essential evictions.
Suspension of Affordable Housing by Private Providers
Private, affordable housing providers have been urged to suspend non-essential evictions for loss of income or employment circumstances that result in a tenant’s inability to pay rent and urges operators to establish reasonable payment plans.
Suspension of Evictions and Foreclosures
Governor Baker signed a bill on April 20, 2020, that places a hold on all eviction and foreclosure proceedings for residential and commercial tenants. Businesses & individuals will receive protection under this new law. Unless the health or safety of other tenants is at risk, this law will prohibit landlords from filing eviction cases. While this bill does not relieve a residential or commercial tenant of their responsibility to pay their rent or mortgage, it does offer protection for those who are unable to make these payments as a result of the economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The new law does not eliminate or reduce an obligation to pay rent. Individuals and businesses that can pay rent should continue to do so and should work collaboratively with their landlords when they are unable to pay rent. On July 21st, Governor Baker extended moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days, until October 17th. Click here to read the full press release.
To avoid having to pay late fees or receiving a negative credit report, the law requires tenants to send a form of hardship notice to their landlord within 30 days of every missed rent payment. That means if a tenant missed paying rent due April 1, the tenant must send the form by April 30 (3 days from now). One form must be filled out for each month of a missed payment. If a tenant is unable to fill out and transmit the form, they can also email or post a letter to the landlord with the same information. Direct link to form: https://www.mass.gov/doc/form-ofnotice-and-documentation-covid-19-hardship-residential-tenant/download
Click here for more information: Moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
Under this legislation, a landlord cannot file a complaint in court to evict an eligible small business for a non-essential purpose, i.e., a purpose that does not pose a health or safety risk. Eligible small businesses are businesses that operate only in Massachusetts, have 150 or fewer employees, and are not publicly traded.
Under this legislation, landlords may not apply late fees or negatively report to credit bureaus if the tenant sends a timely notice that the non-payment of rent was the result of a financial hardship caused by COVID-19. Evictions may still proceed when a tenant’s lease violation creates a health or safety risk for others.
Eligible small businesses can use the Form of Notice – COVID-19 Hardship – Small Business Tenant and the Documentation of Financial Hardship – Small Business Tenant forms to provide the required notice to their landlord of their inability to pay rent. Access these forms and Emergency Regulations here.
MetroWest Legal Services provides free civil legal aid to low-income people and victims of crime who would be denied justice without help. Their priority practice areas include Family Law, Housing, Homeless Advocacy, Government Benefits (including Social Security), Education, Elder Law & Immigration.
The MWLS office is physically closed through May 4, 2020, however, they are still open for intakes and available to help. Please call if you are in need of legal assistance, please call 508- 620-1830 or fill out the online intake form at https://mwlegal.org/.
Tenants should be aware of their rights and remedies available to them as a tenant in Massachusetts. Visit www.mass.gov/info-details/tenant-rights or contact the MA Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations at 617-973-8787.