|BOSTON – Monday, July 19, 2021 – Mayor Kim Janey today announced the creation of the new Rental Relief Fund Community Partner Grant program, which will award $150,000 in grant funding from the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development to Boston nonprofits to enable outreach and support applicants to Boston’s Rental Relief Fund. These new partners will support Boston’s rental relief efforts through creating outreach events, and by providing both technology support and coordination between tenants and landlords. Nonprofit applicants may request up to $20,000 in funding, using applications available in Boston’s 11 most common languages. The Rental Relief Fund Community Partner Grant anticipates funding up to 10 organizations this summer to work through the fall of this year.
"I am so pleased that we have created this partnership grant to help smaller community-based organizations do what they do best: directly help neighbors to get access to funding to pay owed rent, cover utility costs, or help fund their search for new, affordable housing,” said Mayor Kim Janey. “The Rental Relief Fund has $50 million available to support Boston residents with all of these critical needs. I want every resident of our city who needs this funding to have access to it.”
The Department of Neighborhood Development’s Office of Housing Stability and the Housing iLab have been focusing on creating new avenues of equitable distribution of Boston’s Rental Relief Fund. The Community Grant Fund is the result of an ongoing collaboration with community groups and non-profit organizations, who have highlighted their own work with communities that are targets of intensive outreach, based on need. These communities include those who speak languages other than English, including new immigrant communities, as well as low- to moderate-income renters and those with limited access to technology. The Rental Relief Fund Community Partner Grant program will provide funding and support capacity within these non-profit partners, allowing them to increase outreach strategies and provide application support. These organizations also have different communication approaches and access that will create new pathways for outreach to tenants and landlords in need of rental assistance, or other tenant stabilization programs run by the Office of Housing Stability.
Selected Rental Relief Fund Community Partners will develop and implement a three-month outreach and engagement plan for tenants and landlords. Following an evaluation of the outreach strategies and engagement methods, best practices from the grant program may be adapted for additional periods of service and partners. Applications will be accepted through Friday, July 30, 2021.
In March, Mayor Janey announced that the City of Boston would award $50 million in federal funding to help Boston renters stay stably housed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Rental Relief Fund was one of the first funds in the nation created to offer financial support to residents at risk of losing their housing due to impacts from COVID-19. The new funding has enabled the City of Boston to help residents pay their rent and assist in preventing evictions leading up to the federal eviction moratorium that expires on July 31, 2021. The new funding also expanded the scope of the original program beyond solely paying for rent, allowing the City to assist eligible renters with utility bills, and moving costs, including the first and last month’s rent and security deposit. Approximately $3 million from this funding from this announcement was allocated to assist Boston Housing Authority (BHA) public housing tenants, with rental arrears.
Since the Rental Relief fund was established in April 2020, the Rental Relief Fund has awarded more than $16 million to more than 3,000 households across the City of Boston. Funds have been distributed to support residents in every Boston neighborhood. More than 70% of individuals who have applied for financial assistance are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) households and more than 30% of applicants reported that they work or formerly worked in the food services, leisure, and hospitality industries. These industries in Boston have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with roughly half of the more than 34,000 Boston residents working in the hospitality sector claiming unemployment at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 46% of applicants reported that their employers shut down or reduced operations and 9% experienced income loss due to childcare and school closures.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Housing Stability has provided programs and services to assist both renters and landlords, so they remain safely and stably housed. The OHS established the Rental Relief Fund to provide funding to landlords to pay overdue and future rent to keep Boston residents safely housed. It has established a robust court intervention program, as well as landlord mediation and virtual and walk-in legal clinics to serve tenants and landlords in the City of Boston. It has continued to work with all tenants to provide wraparound housing services and supports.
ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF NEIGHBORHOOD DEVELOPMENT
The Department of Neighborhood Development is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, developing affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can find, maintain, and stay in their homes. As part of the ongoing coronavirus response, the Office of Housing Stability is also conducting tenant’s rights workshops to educate residents about the eviction moratorium and their rights. The Boston Home Center continues to provide down payment assistance to first-time home buyers and home repairs for seniors and low-income residents. The Supportive Housing Division works with various partners around the city to rapidly house individuals who are experiencing homelessness. For more information, please visit the DND website.