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Hunger Series: Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program could help those who struggle to make ends meet

Those looking for assistance when it comes to making ends meet can get it through the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, which offers subsidies to those who are deemed eligible for the program.

The program can be broken down into two parts: a tenant-based subsidy that offers assistance for private-ownership dwellings; and project-based subsidies for public housing.

The tenant-based program, which is known as Mobile, is valid for any housing unit that meets the standards of the state sanitary code.

Project-based vouchers go through a specific housing unit or development. The owner rents these units to program-eligible tenants. If you move, you forfeit the subsidy. In both cases, a regional or a local housing authority administers the program locally.

At the present time, there are eight regional non-profit housing agencies and 112 local housing authorities that administer the MRVP throughout Massachusetts to approximately 5,100 households under lease.

There is no specific income figure that determines eligibility for any of the aforementioned subsidies. However, applicants are eligible if their household income does not exceed 80 percent of the area’s median income. The AMI is a statistic that is calculated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for the express purpose of determining eligibility for federal and state housing programs.

Median income is the amount that divides the income distribution into two equal groups: those having income above the prescribed amount and those having income below that figure. Mean (or average) income is the amount obtained by dividing the total aggregate income of a group by the number of units in that group.

For example, according to Sperling’s Best Places, the median income for Lynn is $47,195. Eighty percent of that would be $37,756.

The local housing agency that administers the program will also screen for CORI (Criminal Offender Record Information) before admitting an applicant to the program.

There are currently eight regional non-profit housing agencies and 112 local housing authorities that administer the MRVP throughout the Commonwealth to approximately 5,100 households under lease (2,100 Mobile, 3,000 Project Based).

The state subsidy, or voucher value, is a set amount that takes into consideration several factors, such as the tenant’s income, household size and geography. The tenant pays the difference between the value of the voucher and whatever the landlord charges for rent.

Much of the tenant-based voucher program’s growth in recent years has been in subsidies provided to homeless families in motels or shelters, according to the mass.gov website. When other existing voucher holders leave the program, their vouchers are first offered to eligible applicants on local waiting lists, and these lists are often quite lengthy or even closed due to the great demand, mass.gov says.

The project-based program is a little simpler. Participants pay either 35 percent or 40 percent of their adjusted gross incomes (the difference being whether heat is included in the utilities bill). And unlike the mobile program, some local agencies are still accepting applications for the project-based program.

The Lynn Housing Authority, which administers to these programs, says that while waits may be lengthy, those interested in applying for the MRVP should contact the local agency in the area where they want to live to check the status of the agency’s waiting list, open or closed. Applications may be made where lists are open.

Click on the link below for an application for State-Aided Public Housing, MRVP, & AHVP:

http://www.lhand.org/documents/applicantInformation/UniversalStandardApplication.pdf

 

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