RAFT

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) Homelessness Prevention Program

** DHCD is now administering an upstream rent arrearage homelessness prevention pilot program within RAFT. Similar to our recommendations, $7 million has been set aside this year to help households who have fallen behind on their rent, but have not yet gone to court for eviction. See the Coalition’s Upstream RAFT flyer (PDF, updated 1-3-20), DHCD’s Upstream RAFT flyer (PDF), DHCD’s report on applications and awards for Upstream RAFT for July-September 2019 (PDF), DHCD’s October 2019 monthly report on RAFT, family shelter, and related programs (PDF), and below for more details.**

If you and your household are at imminent risk of homelessness, you may be eligible for Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), a state-funded homelessness prevention program administered by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

For state fiscal year 2020, which will run from July 1, 2019 – June 30, 2020, the RAFT program is funded at $21 million, with a requirement from the Legislature that at least $3 million be used to assist elders, unaccompanied youth, people with disabilities, and other households without children under the age of 21. The balance will be used to serve families with children under 21.

The program is targeted to households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income, with at least 50% of the funds reserved for households at or below 30% of area median income. To see if your household meets the income eligibility limits, see the 2019 area median income limits issued by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. First, click on the box for FY 2019 IL documentation, then select Massachusetts as the state, and then select the relevant choice under county. (The list is alphabetical by city/town with county information included.) To get a general sense of the income limits in various regions of the state, please see the 2019 statewide area median income charts below and here (PDF). Note on using the charts: These charts directly are related to federal housing programs, but the numbers also apply to RAFT. See the figures labeled “extr[emely] low income” to see if your income is at or below 30% of the area median income for your household size, and the figures labeled “very low income” to see if your income is at or below 50% of the area median income for your household size.

If you are eligible for RAFT, you may receive up to $4,000 in benefits in a 12-month period to pay for expenses to avoid homelessness or rapidly exit homelessness. Families who have received funding from the HomeBASE program or are looking to receive HomeBASE funding can access a maximum of $10,000 from the two programs combined.

DHCD’s new RAFT administrative plan for FY’20 is available here. The plan includes details on an upstream rent arrearage homelessness prevention pilot program. Similar to our budget recommendations, $7 million has been set aside this year to help households who have fallen behind on their rent, but have not yet gone to court for eviction. See page 4 of the plan, the Coaltion flyer (PDF, updated 1-3-20 to reflect the language from the state’s December 2019 supplemental budget), and the DHCD flyer (PDF) for more details.

RAFT is administered by a network of eleven regional providers. Here is the list of providers and where they are located. ** Please contact them directly to apply for benefits.**

For more information about our fiscal year 2020 and 2021 budget campaigns to maintain expanded access and increase funding for RAFT, please go to our present policy campaigns page or contact Kelly Turley. For general information about RAFT, check out the state’s RAFT information page.

  • Click here for nightly data on the EA program from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development, and here for monthly EA-related data, including on the reasons families needed to enter the shelter system. Quarterly data from DHCD, from FY’13 to the present, also is available through this link.
  • During state fiscal year 2017, 4,860 families were assisted with emergency shelter and/or HomeBASE diversion assistance, out of the 9,124 families that completed applications for assistance. For fiscal year 2016, 5,609 families were approved for EA and HomeBASE diversion benefits and 3,314 families were denied assistance. More data on the EA and HomeBASE programs can be found here, as well as in this February 2017 report from the Boston Foundation.
  • For additional data, follow this link to the Department of Housing and Community Development’s EA page and see our Basic Facts page.

Information from previous fiscal years:

FY’19: DHCD’s FY’19 RAFT administrative plan/program guidance (PDF) is here, with many details about program benefits and rules. For state fiscal year 2019, which ran from July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019, the RAFT program was funded at $20 million, with a requirement from the Legislature that at least $3 million be used to assist elders, unaccompanied youth, people with disabilities, and other households without children under the age of 21. The balance was used to serve families with children under 21. The program was targeted to households with incomes at or below 50% of area median income, with at least 50% of the funds reserved for households at or below 30% of area median income.

FY’18: The FY’18 statewide and regional reports on how RAFT funds were used are now posted on the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts blog, Network Notes. For state fiscal year 2018, which ran from July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018, RAFT was funded at $15 million. Governor Baker initially had vetoed $2 million in RAFT funding, as well as language that would allow RAFT to continue to serve other types of families, including elders, unaccompanied youth, and people with disabilities, but the Legislature overrode the veto. From February – June 2018, FY’18 funds were available to all household types (families with children under the age of 21, pregnant people, elders, unaccompanied youth, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children) with incomes at or below 50% of area median income, with at least 50% of the funds for families at or below 30% of area median income.

FY’17: The FY’17 statewide report on how RAFT funds were used can be found here, and regional reports are posted here.