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LHAND keeping services going during COVID-19 outbreak

By David Mclellan | April 2, 2020

LYNN — Despite offices being closed, the Lynn Housing Authority & Neighborhood Development (LHAND) is keeping its services running to help vulnerable residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Executive Director Charles Gaeta, LHAND is the largest housing provider in the city, and many of the residents it serves are “vulnerable to the more devastating effects of the virus.” 

LHAND has been reaching out to residents to provide information about safety precautions, and to help secure food assistance. The organization is in regular contact with residents through phone calls, leaflets, and social media. 

All LHAND properties are being sanitized daily, with special attention to high-traffic areas, Gaeta said. For residents needing to submit documents for rental assistance, a “drop-box” has been placed at Caggiano Plaza, 170 South Common St. 

Landlord payments are on schedule, and inspections continue to be done on vacant units. All terminations of assistance and hearings for residents have been postponed for at least 60 days, Gaeta said. 

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) funds are also still available, and emergency assistance funds are available for families behind on rent, utility bills, and mortgage payments. For information on accessing these funds, visit the LHAND website at www.lhand.org/.

Staff are still on-hand to answer calls and questions, though they will not meet with residents in person, Gaeta said. 

“LHAND’s staff has been coming to work each and every day, and have gone over and beyond their traditional roles to make sure that our tenants, program participants and landlords are getting the assistance and support that they need,” Gaeta said. “In the midst of uncertainty, my staff has been a bedrock and I am grateful to them for all that they do.”

A task force has been formed consisting of LHAND, Mayor Thomas McGee, Lynn Health Department Director Michele Desmarais, Greater Lynn Senior Services, and the Lynn Shelter. The task force’s goal is to pool resources and staff time to provide assistance to vulnerable residents, Gaeta said.

LHAND is also directing residents to seek help from United Way, which has partnered with the city to establish the Lynn Community Care Fund. According to a statement from McGee’s office Wednesday, this fund will provide food and supplies to households needing emergency assistance during the outbreak. 

The fund operates by taking donations that go directly to the families in need. The fund covers rent, utility bills, food, internet connectivity, childcare costs, medications, and essential supplies, and may be accessed through United Way’s 2-1-1 help line, or by visiting mass211.org. For information on becoming a donor, visit unitedwaymassbay.org/covid-19/lynn-covid-19-care-fund.

“We are living in unprecedented times where many people in our city are facing food and

economic insecurity because of the preventative measures we have had to take to combat the

spread of COVID-19,” said Mayor Thomas M. McGee. “We must come together to overcome

these challenging times.”

Contact LHAND at (781) 581-8600. To put in a RAFT intake through LHAND’s Family Success Center, call (339) 883-2342 or email fsc@lhand.org.