Which families qualify as "homeless enough" for EA?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Reviewed September 2018

To be eligible for EA you must have no “feasible alternative housing,” which means you must not have “any currently available living situation including temporary housing with relatives, friends or charitable organizations.” 760 CMR 67.06(1)(b).

In addition, you must fall into one of four fairly narrow categories to be eligible:

1. Your household is:

a. at risk of domestic abuse in the current housing situation; or

b. experiencing homelessness because you fled domestic violence and the household has not had access to safe, permanent housing since leaving the housing situation from which you fled. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)1.

Note

Under b., families do not have to prove current risk of domestic violence, but they must show they have no other place to stay now.

2. Your household is experiencing homelessness due to fire, flood or natural disaster through no fault of its members. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)2.

3. Your household has been subject to eviction from its most recent housing due to:

a. foreclosure through no fault of the members of the household;

b. condemnation through no fault of the members of the household;

c. conduct by a guest or other household member who is not part of the household seeking emergency shelter, and over whose conduct the remaining household members had no control over his/her conduct;

Note

This could include an eviction due to incidents of domestic violence where the abuser is not part of the household seeking shelter, as well as situations where the primary breadwinner did not pay the rent and is no longer part of the household;

d. nonpayment of rent caused by:

(i) a documented medical condition, or

(ii) a diagnosed disability, or

(iii) a documented loss of income within the past 12 months directly as a result of

i. a change in household composition, or

ii. a loss of income source through no fault of the household. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)3.

Note

The regulations at 760 CMR 67.06(1)(f)5 say that this category applies if the family loses more than 10% of its income and the new, lower income means the family is paying over 50% of their income for rent and utilities.

e. a pure no-fault reason, such as the expiration of a lease without renewal or termination of a month-to-month tenancy (tenancy at-will) for no stated reason.

Note

No-fault evictions also include evictions because the owner is selling the building, wants to move a family member into the apartment, or wants to make significant renovations to the unit or building.

or

4. Your household is in a housing situation where the [EA] household members:

a.do not include the primary lease holder,

Note

This includes families who are “doubled up” with others and not on the lease or individuals who are on the lease but who are not either the head of household or the intimate partner of the head of household.

or

b. the child(ren) of the household are in a housing situation not meant for human habitation,

Note

Housing “not meant for human habitation” is narrowly defined in 760 CMR 67.06(1)(f)6.d.(ii) and 8 to cover only housing that i) does not have hot and cold water for personal use, ii) does not have heat from September 16th through June 14th, iii) does not have electricity or lighting, or you do not have access to control lighting or electricity, iv). does not have operable toilet facilities, v) has unsanitary conditions that result in the accumulation of garbage. See What Kind of Health and Safety Risk is Serious Enough for Eligibility? d.(ii).

and where

c. there is a substantial health and safety risk to the family that is likely to result in significant harm if the family remain in the housing situation. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)4.

Note:

DHCD has issued policy memos regarding the four categories: how to verify domestic violence for purposes of Category 1, Housing Stabilization Notice 2013-07B; how to determine whether an eviction is for “fault” for purposes of Categories 2 and 3, Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-09A; and two policy memos discussing the terms used and how to verify the health and safety risk required to qualify under Category 4, Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-06B and Notice 2012-10.

Advocacy Tips

  • Former homeowners who were evicted following a foreclosure process for failure to make mortgage payments generally will not be considered eligible for EA on the basis of a “no fault”eviction. However, if the family can prove that its failure to make mortgage payments was the result of one of the excused reasons for nonpayment of rent listed above (a documented medical condition, disability, or loss of more than 10% of income resulting in a payment of 50% of the family’s income toward the mortgage and utilities), then the family will be eligible for EA on the basis of an “excused fault eviction.” See Housing Stabilization Notice 2012-09A, page 6.

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