Shelter, Housing and Utilities

Produced by an AmeriCorps Project of Western Massachusetts Legal Services updated and revised Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Last Updated October, 2009

Transition to Independent Living Program and Transition to Home Programs

These programs pay one-time rental, utility, and/or relocation expenses for
survivors of domestic violence who are trying to live apart from their abusers. You
may be able to get money to cover back rent, security deposit and first month"s rent,
and/or back utility bills. The money comes from the Department of Social Services
(DSS), but you get the money by applying to certain domestic violence and housing
organizations around the state. For a list of organizations where you can apply, see
Appendix X.

Emergency Assistance

Emergency Assistance (EA) Program
gives homeless families with children under 21
and pregnant women emergency shelter. You can apply for shelter with a DHCD worker at any DTA office. There are DHCD workers at most DTA offices. If the DTA office near you does not have a DHCD worker, the office will connect you to a DHCD worker by phone.

See Applying to DTA for information about applying for Emergency Assistance. See
Appealing denials for information about what to do if you apply and DTA tells you
that you cannot get benefits.

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT)

helps with housing costs for people who are homeless or about to become homeless. To
get RAFT, you must have a low income. You also must have children living with you or
have a disability. RAFT can help with back- rent, utilities, security deposit, and
first month's rent. The most you can get from the program is $3,000. You can
apply for RAFT funds at your regional Housing Consumer Education

Fuel Assistance

Fuel Assistance
is a program that pays part of your heating costs each winter. You may be able to get
help paying for fuel even if your heat is included in your rent. You can apply
for Fuel Assistance at your local Community Action Program.

Utility Discounts and Protections from Shut-off

All of the large utility companies have discounts
for people with low-incomes. You can apply for these discounts by contacting your
electricity, gas, and local phone service companies. There are also state laws that
protect low-income people from utility shut-offs in certain situations. See the Help with Utilities for Survivors of Domestic Violence for more information about these

Public Housing and Rental Vouchers

Most towns have public housing and rental vouchers for people with low incomes.
Unfortunately, the waiting lists are long. Battered women, especially if they are
homeless because of abuse, sometimes get a higher priority and can get in quickly.
Look at the
Department of Housing and Community Development's
web page to find the
housing authorities in Massachusetts, or check the Community Service Guide in the
first few pages of your phone book. Look at
Help with Rent for Survivors of Domestic Violence
if you are worried about being
evicted because you can't pay rent.

Private Programs

Some towns have private funds to help people in their towns who have a low income.
Ask at your local churches or town hall. You may be able to get some help from the
Red Cross or the Salvation Army. The Massachusetts Division of Energy Resources has a consumer tip sheet with
contact information for some of these organizations.

Who to call for help

Ask a Law Librarian

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