Boston Housing Authority announces 1,000 new vouchers for the homeless

Boston’s public housing agency is making 1,000 rental housing vouchers available to homeless folks looking for long-term housing.

The Section 8 vouchers are the result of federal Housing Choice Program funding and will provide housing search assistance, stabilization services and funds for those moving into a home for the next six months, according to a press release from the city.

Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s office says the Boston Housing Authority was able to secure at least $28 million for the additional vouchers from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The agency hasn’t issued new vouchers since late 2017.

Vouchers will be issued through four programs – the Rapid Rehousing program, the Moving On program, the Leading the Way Home Program, and the Coordinated Access System referral program, according to the press release.

The programs issuing the vouchers help to rehouse families that have recently become homeless, house the most vulnerable members of the homeless population, provide support and Section 8 rental assistance to families transitioning out of emergency homeless shelters and help formerly homeless tenants transition into independent housing.

The agency also announced 150 additional project-based vouchers to help those in Mass Housing 13A subsidized units remain in their homes.

The city said the vouchers and money were secured after the Boston Housing Authority (BHA) was able to get HUD to adjust the estimated fair market rent (FMR) in Boston to more closely reflect the region’s rising rental market.

The need for a higher FMR was determined after the Boston Housing Authority surveyed those who rent in the city.

FMRs define the payment housing authorities can set for voucher-subsidized rents and subsidy levels for voucher holders.

Walsh said these vouchers will provide more families in Boston with a home.

“These vouchers are more than a rent subsidy – they represent a foundation for stability, support and self-sufficiency,” Walsh said in the press release. “We will continue working together to create these homes for our residents and be a city where every single person matters and every single person is cared for.”

Michael Kane, director of the Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants, was at the press conference with the mayor and said the extra vouchers will help, but it won’t solve the problem.

“It’s certainly great news,” Kane said. “It’s a cause for celebration but it’s far short of helping the 21,000 families who need assistance to stay in the city.”

Kane said the creation of a city-funded rent subsidy program and a return to rent control could benefit more people, particularly for those who are on the BHA’s long waiting list.

Rent control, which was outlawed in a referendum in 1994, allowed towns and cities to impose a limit on rent increases.

A bill to reinstate rent control was filed by State Rep. David Rogers (D) of Cambridge is currently being debated by the state legislature.

Jordan Frias

Jordan Frias is an editorial assistant at Boston Herald and a contributor of Spare Change News. He is vice president of the New England Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and a graduate of Northeastern University's School of Journalism.

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