Which families qualify as "homeless enough" for EA?

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Massachusetts Law Reform Institute

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:
    1. at risk of domestic abuse in the current housing situation; or
    2. experiencing homelessness because you fled domestic violence, and you have not had access to safe, permanent housing since leaving the housing situation from which you fled.
       760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)1.
      1. 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:
    1. Foreclosure through no fault of the members of the household;
    2. Condemnation through no fault of the members of the household;
    3. 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 their conduct;
      1. NOTE: EOHLC attributes to heads of households the ability to exclude a household member or guest and therefore “control” their behavior. HSN 2012-09A cites 760 CMR s. 67.06(1)(f)3.c. to say the limited exceptions are when (1) the behavior was domestic violence; (2) the behavior was related to a mental health issue; or (3) the conduct was caused by a minor household member or guest subject to a Child Requiring Assistance (CRA) plan with which the parent is in compliance;
    4. nonpayment of rent caused by:
      1. Documented medical condition, or
      2. A diagnosed disability, or
      3. A documented loss of income within the past 12 months directly as a result of a change in household composition, or a loss of income source through no fault of the household. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)3.
        1. Note: The regulations at 760 CMR 67.06(1)(f)5 say that this category applies only 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.
    5. 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.
      1. Note: No-fault evictions 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.
  4. Your household is in a housing situation where the [EA] household members:
    1. Do not include the primary lease holder,
      1. 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.
    2. the child(ren) of the household are in a housing situation not meant for human habitation, (but see question 8)
      1. 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 where the household does not have access to control lighting or electricity, iv) does not have operable toilet facilities, or v) has unsanitary conditions that result in the accumulation of garbage. See Question 9, d. (ii).
    3. There is a substantial health and safety risk to the family that is likely to result in significant harm if the family remains in the housing situation. 760 CMR 67.06(1)(a)4.
      1. Note: EOHLC 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 Notices 2016-03, and Notice 2012-10.

Advocacy tips

  • Former homeowners who were evicted following a foreclosure 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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