HomeBASE "Household Assistance": Top 6 Things to Think About
What is Household Assistance?
Household Assistance is part of the new HomeBASE program for homeless families with children and pregnant women who have no safe place to stay. To get Household Assistance, you need to apply for and be eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter.
Household Assistance is up to $4,000 for 1 year. DHCD may also call this Non-Rental Assistance. The money is to help your family move into or keep short-term housing.
The $4,000 can pay expenses for you to move somewhere else, to help you stay with someone you know, or to help you stay where you are now. DHCD will make these payments to a landlord, utility company, or moving company or in the form of gift cards to your host – not to you.
HomeBASE originally included a rental assistance program for new applicants. Since November, however, rental assistance is only available to families who were in shelter before October 28.
Household Assistance may not be the right answer for your family.
You can still get EA shelter if you need it and your family meets the same rules that were in place before HomeBASE started.
Think about these 6 things if you are offered Household Assistance:
You do not have to take Household Assistance and can go into EA shelter instead.
- You have a choice about whether to take Household Assistance or go into EA shelter.
- If you go into shelter, you will get help looking for housing you can afford for a longer time.
- If you go into shelter, you may be able to get HomeBASE rental assistance later.
Are you sure $4,000 is enough money to keep your family in housing for one full year?
- If the whole $4,000 is spent before the end of 12 months and you end up homeless again, you will not be able to get any more help from HomeBASE for the rest of the 12-month period, under current rules.
- If you have to leave the housing before the year is over and you have not spent all $4,000, you may be able to use the rest of the $4,000 to stay somewhere else. But will it be enough to keep you housed for the rest of the year?
- DHCD says you cannot even get into shelter during the rest of the year after your Household Assistance is used up. (This is probably against the law. Please contact legal services if this happens to you).
How will Household Assistance affect the family you are staying with?
- Your host’s landlord must agree that your family can stay before Household Assistance will be approved. You may have to be added to the lease.
- Your host’s rent may go up.
- If Household Assistance pays all of your host's rent or utilities, it could be counted as income for your host. Your host may get less benefits, such as TAFDC, EAEDC, or SSI.
- Your host could get evicted if your children are noisy or if you violate the lease in other ways.
You do not have to stay with someone else if:
- the housing is not safe, too small, or will make you lose your job,
- there is violence or a risk of violence in the home,
- the housing does not meet the needs of a family member with a disability, or
- the host or the host’s landlord says you cannot stay.
You can ask for more time to find out what Household Assistance means for you.
- If you need shelter while you decide if Household Assistance is right for you, ask for a temporary accommodation (this is the HomeBASE form of shelter).
- Tell your HomeBASE worker if you think Household Assistance may not be right for you and why you may need to go into shelter instead.
You can file an appeal if you feel you were forced to take or wrongly denied Household Assistance.
- You will get a Notice Regarding Level and Type of Benefits or a Notice of Denial of HomeBASE benefits.
- File the appeal on that form within 7 days.
- Contact legal services or someone else you trust for advice or for help with your appeal.
If you have questions about HomeBASE, call:
Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute