This January perhaps more than any other has been a time for Housing Assistance to pause, review the accomplishments and challenges of the past year, and set ambitious goals for the year ahead. Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines has begun, our political leadership has transitioned, but for many of us in our region, there is a long way to go before we see an end to our housing struggle.
The winter season on Cape Cod is always a hard time for our local workforce to stay afloat, and the pandemic has only exacerbated this problem of our seasonal economy. Workers who would have picked up extra jobs and shifts over the summer to save for the winter months did not have the opportunity to do so this year. Many other people rely on getting a tax refund in the spring, and may not receive one this year because they did not work and did not withhold any taxes from unemployment benefits.
President Biden extended the federal eviction moratorium. However, the moratorium does not prevent landlords from filing evictions, so all the paperwork will be in place to evict renters as soon as the moratorium is lifted. A recent Mass Housing Partnership’s Center for Housing Data indicated weekly eviction filings have returned to pre-pandemic figures (over 600/week).
$427 Million in addition rental assistance federal funding has been allocated to the Commonwealth, but we have yet to know how much will come to our region and what limits will be placed on it. Many state programs are limited to households who make 80% or less of the Area Median Income, and assistance is limited to $10,000 per household. We are seeing people with higher incomes coming in for assistance now, and we have more clients with higher arrearages on their rent or mortgage.
We must continue to raise funds to cover our neighbors in need who fall just outside the criteria for state RAFT and ERMA programs or need multiple programs to meet their needs.
Housing Assistance’s privately funded Workforce Relief Fund passes on 100 percent of donations to Cape & Islands residents in need of rent or mortgage assistance. It was created during COVID-19 to help fill a gap, serving year-round residents who have more income than is allowed by eligibility guidelines of governmental programs, but who still need help staying housed during this crisis. We’ve raised more than $1 million for the Workforce Relief Fund, over and above the $1,355,000 in state funds that Housing Assistance also administers. Since July 1, 2020 (the start of our fiscal year), Housing Assistance has helped more than 365 households and awarded more than $1.25 million in financial assistance across the Cape. As a region, we have a long way to go to recover from this crisis, but we will do it as we always do, by sticking together and helping one another.
If you need help, please contact Housing Assistance Corporation at 508-771-5400 or email@example.com to find out more about the Workforce Housing Relief Fund and the host of other resources administered by HAC to help renters and homeowners avoid eviction or foreclosure.