Housing Stability


The updated and new MA Sanitary Code is now in effect, as of May 12, 2023, and can be found on the Mass.gov website.

Last-reviewed: 9am, May 26, 2023

Key Resources:

The Basics

  • Evictions are on the rise in MA. Tenants have rights when facing an eviction. Learn more about the process and tenant’s rights here.
  • 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

  • The Housing Court issued an updated Standing Order to continue the temporary modifications to court operations temporarily and it will go into effect June 5, 2023. Under this order the court will continue to use two tier process in summary process (eviction) cases.
  • 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.


  • Chapter 257 protections requiring MA courts to delay non-payment eviction cases while a tenant’s application for emergency rental assistance is pending expired on March 31, 2023. Check these eviction resources or call the free, confidential, multilingual 2-1-1 community service line for more information.
  • Importantly, tenants participating in court-connected mediation have the right to have an attorney, advocate, or other adviser present during dispute resolution sessions.
  • 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 is now $10,000, in effect from August 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023. Find more information here.
  • For more assistance, find the RAA that processes RAFT applications for a specific region by searching 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 the Homeownership Assistance Fund (HAF) in addition to the 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

  • The Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF) provides financial assistance to help homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Foreclosure protections do not create debt forgiveness, but they offer debt repayment delay – a valuable safety net during financial hardship.

The Breakdown

  • The Massachusetts Homeowner Assistance Fund is a federally funded program to help homeowners who have been impacted by COVID-19 and need financial assistance to help them avoid foreclosure. Homeowners can check their eligibility for the HAF on this HAF website.
  • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will suspend the foreclosure process if they are notified that the homeowner applied for assistance through the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF).
  • 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

  • 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. Email or 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

  • DPH has made extensive amendments to the State Sanitary Code to promote healthy living conditions. The amended housing code regulations and changes can be found here. The new and updated MA Sanitary Code went into effect on May 12, 2023.
  • 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

  • Frontline workforces at large agencies or companies may need time to learn changed rules. Try to have something in writing on hand – like a link to a consumer protection announcement – that indicates a right or eligibility for benefits.