Community Resource Guide: RAFT

1)     The GOAL of RAFT is to provide short term, limited financial assistance to help a FAMILY [with at least one child under the age of 21] who is homeless to move into housing and families at risk of homelessness to retain housing, obtain new housing, or otherwise avoid homelessness.  Not less than 90% of the financial assistance funds shall be provided to households with an income not greater than 30% of the area median income (AMI). Not more than 10% of the funds shall be provided to households with an income greater than 30% but no more than 50% of AMI for persons that are homeless and moving into subsidized or private housing, or are at risk of becoming homeless due to a specific reduction of income or increase in expenses. New income guidelines are attached.  Some examples of housing crises’ include:
Eviction from a private dwelling (including housing provided by family or friends).
Eviction from public or subsidized housing
***[New program policy, effective 8/1/13 – subsidized families who received RAFT rent arrears assistance in FY’13 are not able to receive RAFT rent arrears assistance in FY’14]*** Subsidized families who received RAFT rent arrears assistance in FY’13 may be able to request other types of assistance in FY’14 [child care costs, employment related transportation costs, furniture etc…] as long as there is documented evidence of a housing crisis.
Doubled–up and must leave such as violation of host’s lease and landlord has threatened eviction; host-guest conflict.
Health & Safety: Residency in housing that has been condemned by housing officials and is no longer meant for human habitation.
Foreclosure of owner-occupied home or of the rental property, which will result in loss of housing for the tenant.
Severe overcrowding (the number of persons exceeds health and/or safety standards for the housing unit size) and the landlord has given a warning to reduce occupancy or be evicted.
Domestic Violence in household such that the family cannot remain in the housing situation due to risk of violence.
Fire/Flood/Natural Disaster causing homelessness
Utility Shut-Off:  Family has received a utility shut-off notice and will no longer be able to live in current housing
2)     RAFT will be a tool of MBHP’s Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC). Families will not simply come in to our HCEC to ‘apply for RAFT’; instead, families will be complete an HCEC intake form to document their housing situation. This information will be used to develop the best response to meet the family’s need[s]. Using existing networks and relationships, applicants may be referred to community-based income maximization or benefit[s] strategies, such as fuel assistance, utility discount rate, unemployment, social security, food stamps, TAFDC, Medicaid/Mass Health and/or funding sources such as RAFT.
3)     RAFT referrals/applications will be processed based on the need of the family and the ability of the RAFT funds to preserve their current housing situation.
4)     Use of funds includes rent arrearages [summary process and complaint filed w/ court system], mortgage arrearages [if renter, letter from landlord stating that the family must leave due to unit being in foreclosure, if owner/the notice of intent to foreclose by the lender], rental assistance, utility arrearages, security deposits, first/last month’s rent, furniture, and employment-related transportation costs to secure or maintain employment. Applications will be evaluated for reason for request, and potential support services available to this family to assist them in their housing stability going forward.  The requested amount of assistance can not exceed $4,000 in any 12-month period.
5)     Qualification for RAFT funds for New Leasing: - In order to qualify for RAFT funds for leasing a new unit the applicant must provide information/documentation to MBHP which substantiates that the applicant needs to move in order to avoid homelessness.  Acceptable reasons for needing to move include:
Applicant needs to move due to non-renewal of current lease [no fault of applicant]
Applicant needs to move due to eviction [no fault of applicant]
Current unit not in compliance with minimum health and safety standards [no fault of applicant]
Currrent unit is overcrowded in accordance with State Sanitary Code
Relocation makes housing financially sustainable in comparison to a current location/unit
Medical Necessity
Violence or abuse in the household [family is either living in a domestic violence shelter or in other temporary housing but cannot remain there or return to previous housing situation due to risk of violence
6)     Subsidized households – Households residing in subsidized housing cannot receive RAFT assistance in the form of a monthly stipend – subsidized households may receive RAFT for move in costs and/or for rent arrearages as long as the arrearage is directly attributable to one of the following:  a] a disability, including a mental health impairment, that caused the tenant to be unable to manage his/her finances, b] a one-time compelling and unforeseen expense such as funeral expenses for an immediate family member or medical expenses not covered by insurance, c] a sudden decrease in income that does not trigger an adjustment of rent such as short-term unpaid medical leave from work, and/or d] a time lag between tenant compliance with notifying the housing provider of a change in income and the rent adjustment being made by the housing provider.
Please read the following guidance on how to make a referral to HCEC:
1) Please use the attached HCEC Intake Form and scan/email or fax to Amy Mullen, RAFT Supervisor.  The HCEC Intake Form starts the process…
2) An HCEC staff person will first complete any information needed on the Intake Form.  The staff person will then contact the family by phone to review their situation – if it appears that RAFT assistance may benefit the family then we will proceed forward in scheduling an appointment [typically Wednesdays].  Please DO NOT tell families that they are seemingly eligible for RAFT assistance if they are experiencing a housing crises and are income eligible – simply tell the family that you are making a referral to HCEC and that they will be further screened by HCEC staff determine eligibility.
3) After the family has been screened by phone we will schedule an appointment to complete the RAFT application.  An HCEC staff person will communicate with the referring staff person whether or not the person was approved for RAFT assistance.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Amy Mullen directly atamy.mullen@mbhp.org --
Thanks and have a good one!
Kate Fulton
Assistant Director of Housing Supports
Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership
125 Lincoln Street, 5th Floor
Boston, MA 02111
[617] 425-6650 – P
[617] 532-7550 – F
Intake and referral form