SECTION 1. Chapter 23B of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2018 Official Edition, is hereby amended by inserting after section 30 the following section:-
Section 31. (a) Subject to appropriation, the department of housing and community development shall administer the residential assistance for families in transition homelessness prevention program for households whose incomes are at or below 50 per cent of the area median income and who are at risk of homelessness, eviction, foreclosure or utility shut-off within the next 12 months. For the purposes of this program, to receive cash benefits or other services, it is not necessary for a household to be subject to the summary process under chapter 239 or have received a shut-off notice from a utility company. Risk of eviction, foreclosure and utility shut-off may be determined by certified statements from the landlord, mortgage holder, utility company, or the applicant household verifying outstanding rent, mortgage or utility costs and the household’s current inability to pay said fees. The department shall ensure that not less than 50 per cent of the funds be provided to households with incomes not greater than 30 per cent of area median income. Eligible households shall include, but not be limited to, families with children under the age of 21, elders, persons with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. Services and cash benefits under the program shall be made available to households for the prevention of the loss of subsidized or unsubsidized housing. Cash benefits for arrearages shall not exceed the actual liability. Eligible households may receive benefits for short-term rental or utility payments to offset future costs, and to pay for other expenses that otherwise would leave the household at risk of homelessness. In administering the program, the department shall coordinate with the department of transitional assistance, member agencies and offices of the Massachusetts interagency council on housing and homelessness and the agencies contracted to administer the residential assistance for families in transition program on behalf of eligible households served by those agencies and offices so as streamline the application process, provide additional support services, and better promote upstream homelessness prevention and housing stability.
(b) The department shall annually, on or before December 31, issue a report on the rental and mortgage arrearage assistance program created by this section. The report shall be submitted to the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means; the Joint Committee on Housing; and the House and Senate Clerks. The report shall include but not be limited to the following information:
(i) the referral source for each household and number of households referred by said source;
(ii) the number of applications requested, the number of applications completed, the number of applications approved;
(iii) the number of applications rejected and the reasons for denial;
(iv) the household income and demographic information for each qualifying household and its members. This information shall be provided by zip code and cumulatively;
(v) the monthly rent or mortgage liability for each qualifying household and the amount of each arrearage payment; and
(vi) the housing status of each qualifying household at six, twelve, and twenty-four months after receipt of services or cash benefits.
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