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

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed October 2022

Even if your family is experiencing homelessness that is covered by one of the four categories of affirmative eligibility (see Which families qualify as "homeless enough" for EA?) and you meet the EA income and asset rules, EOHLC 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 EOHLC 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,
    • left shelter with HomeBASE at least three months prior to needing shelter again and were not terminated from HomeBASE, 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 were then found ineligible.
  • your family was terminated from the HomeBASE program for “cause” within the past 12 months or EOHLC 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 intentionally 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,
  • 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 perpetrated by someone 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), EOHLC 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 work hours 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 young parents living programs (YPLP) because of rules violations or for any behavior-related reasons, or you refused a young parents living program 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 may be eligible for shelter if your current homelessness was not caused by a disqualifying reason, even if you previously experienced homelessness due to a disqualifying reason. For example, if you were evicted for a disqualifying reason listed above, you may not be found eligible; however, if you found “intervening housing” and then experienced homelessness again, you may be eligible. Intervening housing means that you paid some rent for at least two months in other housing, and you were not staying there in violation of a lease, such as doubled up with someone in subsidized housing. See Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-05
  • EOHLC 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 EOHLC 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 EOHLC rules or use EOHLC 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), and you may want to return to shelter within 12 months, first get EOHLC to sign a Temporary Emergency Shelter Interruption (TESI) form that approves your leaving. EOHLC takes the position that a TESI can only be granted in particular circumstances and that they can only be granted for 30 days, with one 30 day extension, for a total of 60 days. If you do not return by the expiration date of your TESI, EOHLC may still find you are barred by the 12 month rule. See HSN 2016-02. Consult an advocate if you cannot get EOHLC's approval or if you are later denied shelter because you left for temporary housing.
  • During the coronavirus state of emergency, EOHLC allowed families in shelter, particularly those in congregate settings, to take “emergency leave” as long as they stay in weekly contact with the shelter. If you were given permission to leave the shelter because of concerns about COVID-19 and then were terminated for feasible alternative housing or abandonment, or are told you are barred by the 12 month rule, contact an advocate.

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