BOSTON — This week, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $19.6 million for municipalities to address emergency needs in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. This funding will support 181 communities in their work to provide vital services to low-income residents and small businesses affected by the recent outbreak.
Local governments and regional consortiums will fund social services, including homelessness prevention, food pantries and assistance, and job training for in-demand health care workers and technicians. Many communities will also make grants available for local small businesses with five or less employees. 36 lead awardees will organize within their respective municipality or region to deliver services.
The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) made this $19.6 million award through the federally-funded Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. Congress allocated new emergency funding for the program through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act – the CARES Act – to address substantial needs in low and moderate-income communities affected by the pandemic. DHCD has received $46 million in special CDBG funds so far, and is distributing funding across municipalities and stakeholders to meet increased needs, with a focus on helping households maintain housing stability.
In June, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $20 million Emergency Rental and Mortgage Assistance program, which is also funded in part through this federal allocation. This new fund will help more low-income households who have lost employment or income due to the pandemic maintain stable housing, and builds on DHCD’s existing homelessness prevention program, RAFT. In March, Governor Baker announced a $5 million infusion for the fund to address increased need.
DHCD has received more than $160 million in federal funding through the CARES Act, including more than $20 million that has been distributed to Community Action Agencies for anti-poverty work, and is preparing to allocate additional funding for shelter providers. DHCD continues to be in close contact with the stakeholder network, and is working with CHAPA and Mass Housing Partnership to track local emergency rental assistance programs and other resources available to those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This month, the Baker-Polito Administration unveiled a COVID-19 economic recovery package to respond to challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The $275 million package, designed to promote equity across the Commonwealth, includes $85 million for housing efforts, including investments in neighborhood stabilization and sustainable, climate resilient affordable housing, as well as $50 million in targeted relief for small and minority-owned businesses.