Can you be denied shelter even if you are homeless enough and are financially eligible for EA?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed September 2018

Even if you are a family experiencing homelessness that is covered by one of the new four narrow categories of eligibility (see Which families qualify as "homeless enough" for EA?) and you meet the EA income and asset rules, DHCD may still deny your application for a disqualifying reason.

You may be denied for a disqualifying reason if:

  • your family was in EA shelter (or was approved for an EA shelter placement that you did not go to) within the past 12 months (this is known as the "12-month rule").

    Note

    The 12-month rule should not apply to you if, the last time you were in shelter, you:

    • left shelter for temporary housing that was approved by DHCD on a Temporary Emergency Shelter Interruption (TESI) form,
    • left shelter for housing that was supposed to be safe and permanent but turned out not to be,
    • received rehousing assistance and cooperated with your rehousing plan (if you had a temporary subsidy called "Flex Funds" that was terminated for a reason other than that you violated the Uniform Flex Funds Rules, the 12-month rule runs from the last day of shelter and not from the day the subsidy ended), or
    • were temporarily placed in shelter pending receipt of verifications (see What if you do not have proof of your eligibility when you apply for EA?) but then found not eligible.
  • your family was terminated from the HomeBASE program for “cause” within the past 24 months or DHCD finds that you did not make a good faith effort to comply with your HomeBASE housing stabilization plan in ways that could have caused you to be terminated for cause (see 760 CMR 65.03(4)(a) and HomeBASE Terminations and Appeals),
  • your family made itself homeless to become eligible for EA or to get a housing subsidy,
  • the reason you are experiencing homelessness now is that you abandoned public or subsidized housing in the past year without good cause (good cause includes leaving housing for a job, medical care, or other housing, or fleeing the housing because of a direct threat to a member of your household),
  • the reason you are experiencing homelessness now is that you were evicted from (or entered into an agreement for judgment to leave) public or subsidized housing in the past three years for not paying rent or for fraudulent behavior, unless the person who caused the eviction is not part of the household seeking EA or HomeBASE,
  • the reason you are experiencing homelessness now is that you were evicted from (or entered into an agreement for judgment to leave) private, public or subsidized housing for criminal conduct or destruction of property, unless the person who caused the eviction is not part of the household seeking shelter or unless the criminal conduct was by a domestic abuser who is no longer part of the household,
  • the reason you are experiencing homelessness now is that you did not cooperate with EA housing search or other housing assistance activities. If you had HomeBASE and were terminated for violating rules listed in 760 CMR 65.05(1)(a)-(r), DHCD will bar you from receiving more help for 12 months from the date your HomeBASE assistance was terminated,
  • you (or an adult seeking shelter with you) quit a job, reduced work hours, or refused to accept increased hours of employment within 90 days before your application, unless you had "good cause" (good cause includes that you had to attend to a family crisis, emergency or other compelling circumstance or did not have state-licensed child care), or
  • you are a teen parent who was asked to leave 3 or more teen living programs because of rules violations or for any behavior-related reasons or you refused a teen living placement.

760 CMR 67.06(2) and 760 CMR 65.03(4)(a)2.

Note

Consult an advocate if you are denied shelter for any reason and have no safe place to stay.

Advocacy Tips

  • You should not be found ineligible for EA based on losing housing for a disqualifying reason if, since losing that housing, you had "intervening housing" that you lost for a reason that does not make you ineligible. In other words, you may be eligible for shelter if your current homelessness was not caused by a disqualifying reason. In general, DHCD “intervening housing”means that you paid rent for at least two months in another housing situation and your presence did not violate the lease. See Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-05
  • DHCD should not deny you EA benefits based on the 12-month rule if you left shelter for permanent housing that you later discovered was not safe and affordable. See 760 CMR 67.06(1)(d)1.b.
  • DHCD should not deny you EA benefits based on the 12-month rule if you left shelter for HomeBASE and you have been out of shelter for at least three months. However, you must establish EA eligibility and be in good standing with the HomeBASE program. See Housing Stabilization Notices 2013-03 and 2013-03A
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) may require DHCD to disregard denial reasons that are related to disability (for example, you were evicted for destruction of property that happened because of disability-related conduct). See What if a disability makes it hard for you to meet DHCD rules or use DHCD services? and ask an advocate for more information about the ADA.
  • If you want to leave shelter for temporary housing (for example, to stay with family or friends), first get DHCD to sign a Temporary Emergency Shelter Interruption (TESI) form that approves your leaving. Consult an advocate if you cannot get DHCD's approval or if you are later denied shelter because you left for temporary housing.

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