To the editor:
As Massachusetts grapples with housing instability, unemployment, structural racism and health inequality, now is the time to invest in Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, a program of the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.
RAFT is a key tool to help those at risk avoid or exit homelessness, providing funds to low-income households for needs such as rent, back utility payments and transportation costs.
Of the $28 million invested in RAFT, $5 million has been transferred to create a COVID-19 response fund. Looking ahead, when existing moratoria on evictions and utility shut-offs expire, more funding will be needed.
Census.gov reports 13.2% of Haverhill’s population live in poverty. Nearly 8,500 people are at risk of homelessness, illness and hunger on an average day - let alone during a pandemic.
Since COVID-19 began, hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts households have fallen behind on rent, utilities and other needs after job losses and reduced work hours. Both COVID-19 and housing instability also impact black and brown communities disproportionately.
RAFT is a key part of stemming the tide of homelessness, addressing racial inequities and keeping our communities whole.
With the uncertainty of COVID-19, it’s time for an immediate call to action.
Join with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in advocating with Legislature to appropriate $50 million for RAFT to address ongoing housing instability needs.
I hope your readers will reach out to their state representatives and senators to ask them to take action to prevent homelessness in the commonwealth by making critical investments in RAFT.