Where can you be placed if you qualify for EA shelter?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed December 2019

If you qualify for EA shelter, DHCD can place you in

  • a shelter with other families (congregate shelter),
  • an apartment (scattered site shelter),
  • an apartment with another family (co-housing scattered site shelter),
  • a substance abuse shelter if you or another adult in the family have a substance abuse problem,
  • a teen living program if you are a teen parent or a pregnant teen under age 20 and space is available, or
  • another DHCD-approved temporary shelter, such as a motel. If you are placed in a motel, DHCD can transfer you to a family shelter as soon as space is available. 760 CMR 67.06(3).

In certain circumstances, DHCD may choose to place an adult child (21 or older) or a second parent in a separate shelter, including a shelter for single adults. 760 CMR 67.07(3)(b)2.

If you are placed in EA shelter, DHCD must place you in a shelter within 20 miles of your home community if there are any openings in the area. However, there often are no openings within 20 miles and you could be placed very far away. If you are placed more than 20 miles from your home community, DHCD is required to transfer you to a shelter within 20 miles of your home community as soon as there is an opening, unless you do not want to move back. 760 CMR 67.06(3)(c) and (e).

DHCD can transfer you from one shelter to another shelter if it thinks it would be “efficient” to transfer you. 760 CMR 67.06(4)(c).

Advocacy Tips

  • Even if you think you have a good reason for refusing a shelter placement that is offered to you (either as a first placement or as a transfer), you should accept the placement if possible and then appeal the placement; otherwise you may be terminated and barred from recieving further help. See Can you be denied shelter even if you are homeless enough and are financially eligible for EA? and What are Rehousing and Stablization Plans?
  • DHCD is supposed to make every effort to ensure that children placed in EA shelter can continue going to school in their home communities. 760 CMR 67.06(3)(d). If you are in EA shelter and want to be placed where your children can continue going to school in their home community, make a written request to your DHCD worker. You may also contact the school’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Liaison, or contact the Homeless Education State Coordinator Sarah Slautterback at [email protected].
  • DHCD must consider disability-related reasons why you need to be placed near your home community, or why you need a particular type of shelter or housing. For example, if you or a family member uses a wheelchair, you should be placed in a wheelchair-accessible unit. If a family member has mental health problems and needs privacy, you should be placed somewhere that provides more privacy. Tell your DHCD worker that you need a “reasonable accommodation.” See Disability Accommodations and What are your rights if DHCD denies your reasonable accommodation request? for more information about the Americans with Disabilities Act or contact an advocate.
  • DHCD should also place you in an area that does not cause you to lose your job. Tell DHCD if you think an offered placement would interfere with your keeping a job. If possible, make a written request explaining the reasons to DHCD. Shelter placements are made by DHCD Central Staff; you can contact Contracting and Performance Manager Barbara Duffy at [email protected].

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