As larger numbers of residents struggle to make ends meet amid a changing employment landscape due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Community Preservation Act could provide a safety net for some.

The Community Preservation Coalition, which manages the program for 176 member cities and towns, confirmed in an email newsletter that CPA funds can be used for rental assistance as defined in Section 2 of the CPA legislation.

The 2012 amendments to the CPA law clarify that rental assistance support is allowable under the Community Housing category of funding, including, but not limited to, “programs that provide grants, loans, rental assistance, security deposits, interest-rate write downs or other forms of assistance directly to individuals and families who are eligible for community housing, or to an entity that owns, operates or manages such housing, for the purpose of making housing affordable.”

Guidelines for using CPA funds for rental assistance are provided by the Massachusetts Housing Partnership at bit.ly/CPARental.

Georgetown, Gloucester, Somerville, Waltham, and some towns on Martha’s Vineyard have used CPA funds in previous years to provide rental assistance support to community housing tenants, according to the Community Preservation Coalition.

In January, CPA communities received a second distribution of funds, from the delayed fiscal 2019 close-out budget. Allocations from the $20 million surplus amount were calculated based on the formula used to determine the state match from the CPA Trust Fund. The annual distribution from the CPA Trust Fund was last made in November 2019.

With the surplus funds included, the state match to CPA communities was 23.9% for fiscal 2019, totalling more than $43 million. Without the surplus funds, the state match would have been only 13.9%.

The text of the CPA legislation is available at www.communitypreservation.org/text-legislation. Detailed information about past projects, filtered by community, type of project, and year, can be accessed at www.communitypreservation.org/databank/projectsdatabase.

Using the Community Preservation Act For Rental Assistance Programs – Massachusetts Housing Partnership

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