A pandemic-era fund for renters is drying up. Advocates say it's too soon to stop.

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Triple-deckers along Edgewood Street in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Triple-deckers along Edgewood Street in Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Massachusetts has a really tough housing market. Whether you rent or own, it doesn't matter: it's expensive.

For those who had trouble making rent during the pandemic, there's been an extra lifeline. It offered more money than typical rental assistance programs, it was more flexible, and more people qualified for it. It was called ERAP, or the Emergency Rental Assistance Program.

And it's going away.

The Baker Administration has announced the state will stop taking new applicants on April 15. After that, they'll use what's left of the $800 million in program money to pay qualified claims, but no one new will get help.

There is another program, a state program called RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition), but it's much, much less money, and it's much harder to qualify for it. RAFT helps maybe 6,000 families a year. With ERAP, more than 72,000 people got help.

Laura Villafane is one of those people who got that federal aid, and she's now a Housing Specialist with Maverick Landing Community Services, helping other families who need rental relief. She joins us to share how ERAP helped her get by, and what it will mean for the program to be discontinued.

Then we turn to Kelly Turley, Associate Director at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, to talk about what it would take to extend the program, or find an alternative.

This segment aired on March 30, 2022.

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Sarah Leeson Freelance Producer
Sarah Leeson was a freelance producer for WBUR's Radio Boston.


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Tiziana Dearing is the host of Radio Boston.



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