Can you get EA if you are not a United States citizen or not a Massachusetts resident?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2019

Immigration Status

EA is available to many immigrants with legal status, including refugees, lawful permanent residents and persons residing in the U.S. under color of law. For a full definition of eligible non-citizens, see 106 CMR 203.675.

If any member of your household has one of these statuses or is a U.S.citizen, your entire household meets this requirement. 760 CMR 67.02(7).For example, if a mother and one child are undocumented but the youngest child is a legal permanent resident, the entire household has eligible immigration status for EA shelter.

For EA shelter purposes, a household consists of at least one child, parents, step-parent or caretaker relatives, legal guardians, and siblings (including half- and step- siblings) of the child. For example, a family consisting of a child, her mother, stepfather, and stepsister are seeking EA, but only the stepsister is a U.S. citizen or has eligible status, the entire household has eligible immigration status for EA.

State Residency

In July 2012, DHCD began verifying that all members of a family seeking shelter are residents of the Commonwealth. 760 CMR 67.02(1)(c).

Any third-party verification that shows you are in the Commonwealth with an intention to reside should be good enough to prove Massachusetts residency.

The preferred forms of verification for adults are a Massachusetts ID or driver’s license or a current utility bill, but a good alternative is proof that any of the children in the family are registered for school in Massachusetts or proof of voter registration in Massachusetts. A letter from a child’s primary care doctor listing a Massachusetts address is also acceptable, as is mail from a state or federal agency that is addressed to you at a Massachusetts address.

Registration in school can be verified by a transcript or in a letter on the school’s letterhead, which should be able to be obtained quickly.

If you are denied for lack of proof of Massachusetts residency and you intend to remain in Massachusetts and need emergency shelter, contact an advocate.

For a complete list of documents DHCD says it will accept as proof of eligible immigration status and Massachusetts residency (and identity) see pages 4-6 of Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-08.

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