Community Resource Guide: Family Shelters

Know Your Rights on State-Funded Family Shelter
based on

EA (Emergency Assistance) Shelter is funded by the state DHCD (Dept. of Housing & Community Development) and is administered by the state DTA (Dept. of Transitional Assistance).
Who is eligible for State Emergency Shelter?
1)    Be a resident of Massachusetts (bring a state ID, lease or utility bill, or a letter from the child’s school or doctor showing an in-state address)
2)    Have a child under 21 years old or are pregnant
3)    Meet the income limits
4)    At least one member is either a US citizen or at least onefamily member is “PRUCOL” (persons residing under color of law) which includes refugees, asylees and lawful permanent resident
1)   You are homeless through no fault of your own (No-fault fire, flood, natural disaster, condemnation, or foreclosure, no fault eviction) OR
2)   Child(ren) are exposed to a substantial health and safety risk
3)    You have a place, but one that is overcrowded or unsafe. OR
4)    You need to leave your current housing due to domestic violence or a severe medical condition;
5)    AND
6)    You have no place to stay with family or friends.

To apply by phone: Call 866-584-0653 and ask to speak to a Homeless Coordinator.
To apply in person:  You can apply at any DTA office, 8 am – 4 pm. Go as early in the morning as possible in order to be seen that day.
Closest locations:
·      1010 Mass Ave, Boston (take #1 bus from Central Square, Cambridge)
·      80 Everett Ave, Chelsea
On the next page:
·     Preparing for your trip
·     During the Intake Interview

Preparing for your trip:
Bring all ID documents that you have for all members of your household.
1)   Bring any documents related to your current or recent housing situation: any eviction notices or letters from your current or last landlord stating why you needed to leave.
2)    To prove overcrowding or severe violations of the State Sanitary Code, bring a report from the health department/ housing inspector if you have it.
3)    You must prove that you intend to reside in the state.  Bring a state ID or a utility bill (preferred), or a letter from the child’s school or doctor showing an in-state address.
4)    Bring any documents related to domestic violence.
5)    Bring all of your belongings with you, since you may be placed right away.
6)   Bring as many members of your household as you can.
7)   Bring food and activities for your children as you may need to stay all day at the office.
8)   Go as early in the day as possible in order to have the best chance of being seen.

During the intake interview:
1)    You have the right to an interpreter. There is also a Language Line that the worker can call for an interpreter. Basic documents are available in the most common languages.
2)   You may be asked if you have family or friends to stay with- If that is not a realistic option for you, then say you have no options.
3)   Get the name and phone number of any staff person you talk to and write it down.
4)   Ask for documentation of the results of your meeting.  Whatever the outcome, as for a letter that explains what the next steps are.  This will help us follow through with the staff.
5)    The worker must take your application the same day, and must approve or deny it right away if you have no place to stay, or if your health or safety is at risk.
6)    If a worker tries to convince you not to apply, ask to speak with a supervisor or office director, or call WATCH in Waltham (if you are a Waltham resident) at 781-891-6689 x203 or Greater Boston Legal Services, 617-371-1234or 800-323-3205 (toll-free)
7)    If you don’t have all the necessary papers, but based on your statements, you seem to qualify, then they must place you in a shelter right away, and give you 30 days to get the rest of the papers. They must also help you to get the papers, if they can.



State Emergency Shelter Rules for Families with Non-US Citizens

What to Bring with You - When You Go to the DHCD Office to Apply for EA Family Shelter


Additional information on shelters for men, women, and families:

Boston Public Health Shelter List

Health Care Without Walls Shelter List