Communities that are helping financially struggling and jobless residents pay their rent during the COVID-19 emergency can contribute to an ongoing Massachusetts Housing Partnership survey measuring the scope of these new rental assistance programs in the Commonwealth.

The state has asked the MHP to track the municipalities that have started emergency rental assistance programs in response to the pandemic, as well as the amount of money they are spending on those programs. For its part, the MHP is using the information to evaluate housing resources available to residents affected by COVID-19, and to assemble best practices for advising communities interested in these programs.

Since the state of emergency was declared in March, dozens of Massachusetts communities have been helping residents make their rent payments after they have lost jobs or income. According to the MHP, communities around the state have established programs, including the cities of Newton and Salem. In Berkshire County, 14 communities are collaborating as part of a regional effort.

The MHP will take the information it receives from communities and update the report and database that it had initially released on June 25 in collaboration with the state and the Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association. The June 25 report, which provided a snapshot of data collected between May 8 and May 26, revealed that 48 communities had emergency rental assistance programs in place and had pledged more than $20 million for housing assistance since March, while another 21 were considering creating similar programs.

The MHP asks municipal officials who monitor rental assistance programs to email the organization with information about the funds they are using or plan to use; the program’s administrator; the program’s target area median income or population; the maximum benefit per household; the program’s duration; and any lessons learned that could help other communities.

The survey is part of MHP’s ongoing work with communities to help people at risk of losing their homes or apartments due to COVID-19. Since the state of emergency began, the MHP has created guidelines for communities using Community Preservation Act funds for emergency rental assistance programs, organized a webinar with CHAPA about these programs, and helped create a Q&A document on how to use local funds to run effective, short-term emergency rental assistance programs.

For more information about the survey, or to provide the MHP with information about your community’s emergency rental assistance program, contact Katie Bosse at kbosse@mhp.net.