Housing Stability


Starting September 27, 2023, the CHAMP (Common Housing Application for Massachusetts Programs) website will include the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP).

Last-reviewed: 11am, Sept. 19, 2023

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) changed their name to Executive Office of Housing and Livable Communities (EOHLC).
  • Tenants participating in court-connected mediation have the right to have an attorney, advocate, or other adviser present. Care team members can encourage individuals facing eviction to consult with an attorney prior to entering into any agreements with a landlord. For more information on tenant’s rights and available remedies click here.
  • The Office of Housing Stability in Boston hosts virtual legal clinics for tenants and small landlords every Tuesday from 5:30 – 7:30pm. The clinics aim to provide community members with eviction defense information and assistance. Tenants and small landlords can complete a multilingual form and register for the clinic.
  • State law prohibits landlords from discriminating against people based on their source of income, including housing vouchers.

The Breakdown

Housing Court

  • Housing Courts, District Courts, and Boston Municipal Courts (BMC) will continue to conduct summary process hearings in tiers.
    • The 1st tier is designated for mediation. Tenants who do not appear at the first tier will receive a default. If there is no resolution at the 1st tier, notice of a 2nd tier date – a trial – will be sent to the tenant and landlord. Importantly, Rule 7 of the MA Uniform Rules on Dispute Resolution provides that tenants participating in court-connected mediation have the right to have an attorney, advocate, or other adviser present.
  • Parties to Housing Court cases can sign up online for an eReminder (by text message) of upcoming court events. Learn more about this service here.


  • Housing Courts will pause non-payment of rent eviction for cases where a tenant has a pending application for emergency rental assistance. Read the law and more about the protection here.
  • Individuals and families seeking financial rental assistance apply for RAFT: (1) Households applying for assistance with rent arrears must have received a notice to quit or eviction notice/court summons; (2) the RAFT benefit cap decreased from $10,000 to $7,000 within a 12-month period starting July 1, 2023. Find more information here.
  • For more assistance, find the RAA that processes RAFT applications for a specific region by searching here.
  • The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program will begin paying security deposits starting September 1, 2023. More information here.
  • DHCD has issued a Housing Assistance Application Reference Guide to help tenants apply for housing assistance through the new Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program portal. The guide offers a detailed walkthrough for a tenant (or tenant with help from an advocate) to apply for RAFT through the new Massachusetts Emergency Housing Payment Assistance Portal. Find more information here.
  • People with court cases relating to housing who do not have a lawyer may contact the Housing Court Virtual Front Counter and Housing Specialist Front Counter, the Housing Court helpline or the Housing Court for their region to confirm scheduling and deadlines in their case.
  • City Life/Vida Urbana assists renters who are facing evictions. They can be reached at (617) 934-5006 (English) or (617) 397-3773 (Spanish). The National Housing Law Project (NHLP) has created an Eviction Prevention Tool for advocates working with public housing and voucher tenants.
  • DHCD has partnered with community mediation centers to expand access to mediation resources in an effort to prevent eviction.
  • Housing discrimination – including eviction or refusal to rent – based on national origin or race, age, gender, disability or the perception that one has a disability, is illegal. If discrimination is experienced for these or other reasons, one option is to file a complaint with the MCAD telephonically or electronically.
  • CFPB has issued a housing insecurity media toolkit. The toolkit includes information and resources for homeowners, renters, and landlords.



  • Homeowners can apply for mortgage payment assistance through RAFT program.
  • For a limited time, qualifying homeowners can receive reimbursement for lead paint remediation through the HUD-funded Lead Hazard and Healthy Homes Program. More information here.

The Bottom Line

  • Although there is some uniformity among courts, eviction proceedings may happen differently in Housing, District, and BMC courts. Contact the clerk’s office in the court where the eviction matter is pending for the most up-to-date information. Emergency shelter should be available for families who qualify.
  • Statewide resources are available for homeowners and tenants.


The Basics

  • Foreclosure protections do not create debt forgiveness, but they offer debt repayment delay – a valuable safety net during financial hardship.

The Breakdown

  • The VA allows homeowners to continue paying their regular monthly payments, deferring forborne payments to the end of the mortgage term. More information can be found here.

The Bottom Line

Homelessness & Shelter

  • New “Family Welcome Centers” are opening in Massachusetts to help connect families experiencing homelessness with services and shelter. The first Family Welcome Center was opened in Allston in June 2023. The newest will open on the campus of Eastern Nazarene College in Quincy. More information here.  
  • It is important that care teams have tools to help families find shelter today. Local offices are closed for in-person appointments, the statewide hotline (1-866-584-0653) is the only option for applicants. When the statewide hotline is unreachable, move up the chain of command until an applicant gets a shelter placement or an official denial letter. Whenever possible use email or keep a phone log to ensure there is a record of your efforts.
  1. Call the DHCD Hotline 866-584-0653 to speak with a Homeless Coordinator
  2. Call the Homeless Coordinators at your local DHCD Field Office 
  3. Call the Supervisor at your local DHCD Field Office
  4. Call the Assistant Director of Field Operations for your Region.
    • Boston: email or call (857-260-5830) Katherine Lopez 
    • Southeast: email or call (857-505-4233) Daniel Dessin
    • Northeast: email or call (857-260-7953) Sean Wilson
    • Central/West: email or call (413-276-5562) Bonnie Caldwell
  5. Call (857-270-1150) Ezequiel Lopes, Deputy Director of Field Operations
  6. Email or call (617-721-3511) Dolores DiFillipo, Director of Field Operations

More information on finding emergency family shelter here.

  • Families may receive HomeBASE benefits to help stabilize housing-related needs.

Conditions of Disrepair

The Basics

  • The Massachusetts State Sanitary Code enforced by the Department of Public Health provides regulations for healthy living conditions. Landlords are required to comply with the Housing Code.
  • Government agencies are working to implement procedures for community members to access resources and address their housing needs.

The Breakdown

  • The revised MA housing code regulations are intended to promote healthy living conditions, including specific requirements on pest management, mold, and a landlord’s obligation to provide alternative housing for tenants whose residence has been condemned.
  • The CELHP team at MLRI launched MADE: Up To Code, an online tool to assist renters in documenting bad conditions and holding landlords accountable when repairs are needed.
  • The local Board of Health is one resource renters can use when their landlord has not addressed an unsanitary or unsafe condition.
  • This website lists the 242 Massachusetts housing authorities with links to available websites.

The Bottom Line

  • Care team members can share information about the MA sanitary code and resources to help individuals and families enforce their rights to a safe and habitable home.