State Highlights Expanded Access to Housing for Vulnerable Communities

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito joined Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Jennifer Maddox to highlight expanded access to housing for vulnerable communities across the Commonwealth.

Beginning in Fiscal Year 2021, the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) has expanded the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) and the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP) to make more rental vouchers available to more households in need. An additional 767 MRVP vouchers and 157 AHVP vouchers have been made available and targeted to specific, vulnerable populations.

“Our administration has long recognized the need for more affordable housing in Massachusetts, and the challenges created by the pandemic have made this need even more clear,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “Since entering office, we have been proud to invest more than $1.4 billion in the development and preservation of affordable housing, and we look forward to this expansion of our state voucher program providing safe, affordable housing to more households across the Commonwealth.”

The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program provides deep rental subsidies to low-income individuals and households. Currently, vouchers support nearly 8,900 households across the Commonwealth. More than 5,000 of these vouchers are mobile vouchers, meaning they can be used by families in search of housing available on the private market. The remaining vouchers, known as project-based vouchers, are used to support long-term affordability in specific housing developments. The expansion highlighted today will help households living in family, individual and domestic violence shelters move into permanent housing. Additionally, 100 vouchers will support the development of new permanent supportive housing for individuals.

The expansion of AHVP vouchers, which are available to non-elderly individuals with disabilities, will help meet strong demand for this program. DHCD is also working with the agencies that manage AHVP vouchers to increase utilization rates by increasing the value of these vouchers, and providing greater flexibility for agencies to deploy this resource.

In October, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the Eviction Diversion Initiative, a multi-pronged strategy to prevent evictions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Since last spring, the administration has delivered more than $50 million in emergency rental and mortgage assistance to roughly 13,000 unique households. This initiative combines substantial emergency financial assistance, along with new, free or low-cost legal aid for low-income tenants and low-income homeowners who live in a home with rental units, and new, free mediation through the Massachusetts Office of Public Collaboration to help tenants and landlords solve lease problems together.

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