Homes for All - Massachusetts

Report: Inaccessibility of rental assistance in MA is causing evictions

By Homes for All Massachusetts and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

July 21, 2021

Data from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) shows that approximately 90% of applications for rental and mortgage assistance were denied between January and May 2021.* This is leading to formal and informal evictions which could have been prevented; for homeowners it is heightening the risk of foreclosure and other negative impacts.

Bar graph showing number of rental and mortgage assistance applications made and number of applications denied per month in MA for January 2021 through May 2021

The shocking level of denials reflected in this data is consistent with reports from tenants, homeowners, community organizations, service providers, housing advocates, and legal aid attorneys. Sources familiar with the application process consistently describe a system that is incredibly slow, extremely difficult to navigate, prone to wrongful denials, and particularly inaccessible for people who do not speak English, applicants with disabilities, and those who lack access to computers.

Despite repeated requests to DHCD from advocates, Massachusetts has also failed to implement policies recommended by experts and the Biden administration that would make for quicker, easier, and more equitable distribution of assistance.

Homes for All Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute, and organizations and allies across the state are now calling for swift passage of the COVID-19 Housing Equity bill in order to prevent evictions and foreclosures and ensure vulnerable tenants and homeowners are able to access available assistance funds.

Data from DHCD "Eviction Diversion Initiative" (EDI)

Chart graph showing number of rental and mortgage assistance applications made and number of applications denied per month in MA for January 2021 through May 2021

DHCD "Eviction Diversion Initiative" (EDI) monthly reports provided to the State Legislature

Reports required by Chapter 257 of the Acts of 2020

*The denial rate was calculated based on the aggregate totals from the five months of data provided by the state. Applications are not typically opened and completed within a single month so these data do not indicate the exact proportion of denials to applications, but the available data gives a strong indication of the extremely low overall success rate.