Elizabeth Valenta from the Regional Housing Services Office discusses regional emergency housing efforts with MMA Human Services Council.

The MMA Human Services Council hosted a webinar yesterday to discuss state and regional emergency housing efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Elisa Bresnahan from the Department of Housing and Community Development covered state-funded homelessness prevention efforts, including expansion of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program under the Baker-Polito administration’s new Eviction Diversion Initiative, as well as emergency shelter options and the HomeBase re-housing program for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Bresnahan also provided an update on the DHCD’s timeline for identifying and opening emergency shelter sites in preparation for the winter. She responded to a number of questions about RAFT eligibility, the Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Programs, and shelter solutions for the elderly.

Elizabeth Valenta from the Regional Housing Services Office, an Acton-based collaboration among nine member towns, discussed the emergency rental and mortgage assistance programs established by her organization using a combination of funding from the federal CARES Act and the Community Preservation Act. The Regional Housing Services Office provides services through an intermunicipal agreement to Acton, Bedford, Concord, Lexington, Lincoln, Maynard, Sudbury, Wayland and Weston.

Valenta answered questions about technology challenges with an online application system, how to use CARES Act funds for local housing assistance programs, and tips for establishing similar programs in small towns.

The program concluded with a legislative update from MMA Senior Legislative Analyst Brittney Franklin, who discussed various state budget bills, including funding for the Opioid Recovery and Remediation Trust Fund, and the law that allows communities to make payments under existing contracts for school and education services that are not currently being delivered, if that is desired. Franklin also provided an update on the policing reform bills and the recent uptick in unemployment fraud claims that have been impacting municipalities.

More than 100 human services professionals participated in the hour-long webinar.

DHCD homelessness prevention programs training video
Emergency shelter provider list by community
DHCD family shelter eligibility guidelines
Local emergency rental assistance program database
Regional Housing Services Office rental and mortgage assistance applications

MMA HSC Fall Webinar – Regional Housing Services Office presentation (120K PDF)

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