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Where can I get help paying my rent?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed August, 2021

Rental Assistance Programs

Use one application at your regional Housing Consumer Education Center.

to apply for:

Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP)

ERAP can pay your back rent, future rent or moving costs if:

  • You lost income or had more costs because of COVID-19 or it affected you in some other way, and
  • You earn less than 80% of Area Median Income.

Back rent

ERAP can pay up to 18 months of your back rent.

Future rent

ERAP will only pay 3 months at a time.

  • ERAP will not pay future rent for subsidized tenants.

Moving costs

  • ERAP can pay for things like:
  • moving costs,
  • first month’s rent,
  • last month’s rent,
  • security deposit, and
  • up to $1,500.00 of overdue utility bills.

Apply for ERAP funds at your regional Housing Consumer Education Center.

Note to immigrants

Your immigration status does not matter. Anyone can apply for ERAP.

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA)

RAFT and ERMA can pay up to $10,000 in back rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, future rent, mortgage payments or moving costs if:

  • You are homeless or about to become homeless, and

RAFT and ERMA send payments to your landlord or mortgage company.

Apply for RAFT and ERMA funds through Regional Housing Consumer Education Centers.

See the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD)'s webpage.

Note to immigrants

Your immigration status does not matter. Anyone can apply for RAFT and ERMA.

Subsidized Housing Emergency Rental Assistance Program (SHERA).   

Your landlord may be able to get money to pay your missed rent payments if: 

  • You live in subsidized housing.
  • Your household income is at or below 80% Area Median Income.
  • You lost income or had more costs because of COVID-19. And
  • Your landlord can prove you missed some rent payments from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.

The SHERA program can pay all your missed rent from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.  Your landlord can apply online with DHCD at the end of April 2021-early May 2021. See SHERA.

Massachusetts 211

Dial 2-1-1 on your phone to find resources to pay for:

  • rent,
  • utilities,
  • food, and
  • child care.

Get the most up-to-date information over the phone. But, they also have a website, Mass211.org.

Housing Consumer Education Centers of Massachusetts

Talk to your Housing Consumer Education Centers about emergency rental assistance if you have low income. They may know of other places to apply for money. Find your center or call 1-800-224-5124.

You can also try your Regional Admin Agency.

Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers COVID-19 Pandemic Relief Fund

Your household may be eligible for up to $800 if you:

  • Are a farmworker or seafood industry worker,
  • Who is experiencing financial hardship, and
  • Is at risk of homelessness or housing instability.
  1. Download an application you can fill out on your computer.
  2. Send your application to Attorney Claudia Quintero.
  3. Call (413) 686-9054 with any questions.

For actors, bartenders, restaurant workers and creators

The Committee for Public Counsel Services has a list of special nonprofit organizations that have funds you can apply for. Some of these funds may cover your rent. Scroll down the page and look under the heading 'Financial Assistance.'

United Way COVID-19 Fund

Learn more about getting money for rent from the United Way.

Mutual aid networks

Massachusetts Jobs with Justice lists mutual aid networks where you can ask for things you need and offer items or services. Someone may be able to help you with your rent. Look for your city or town on the webpage.

Other Help

Some cities and towns have money to help with rent. Learn how to use Massachusetts Housing Partnership’s Toolbox database to see if your city or town has money to help.

Some churches and non-profits like the Salvation Army may have money. Ask if they have money to help with rent.

Find Legal Aid

You may be able to get free legal help from your local legal aid program. Or email a question about your own legal problem to a lawyer.

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