Mayor Wu Marks Two-Year Milestone of Boston’s Rental Relief Efforts
Today, Mayor Michelle Wu marked the second anniversary of the City’s Rental Relief Fund, announcing that since it was established in April of 2020, the Fund has awarded over $35 million to more than 5,000 households in every neighborhood in Boston. The Rental Relief Fund was one of the first funds in the nation created to offer financial support to residents at risk of losing their housing due to impacts from COVID-19.
“Over the last two years, our city resources and staff have worked to help keep families in their homes throughout incredibly difficult times,” said Mayor Michelle Wu. “I look forward to continuing this work by leveraging every dollar available to ensure our residents remain stably housed and focus on housing affordability as the foundation for our recovery.”
Through January 2022, households who were assisted received an average of $8,776. More than 70% of individuals who have applied for financial assistance are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) households and more than 30% of applicants reported that they work or formerly worked in the hospitality industry. The hospitality industry in Boston was hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, with roughly half of the more than 34,000 Boston residents working in the hospitality sector claiming unemployment at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Almost 65 percent of Bostonians are renters, and more than half of them spend more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent, leaving them struggling to save and vulnerable to housing instability.
The City of Boston’s Rental Relief Fund is managed by the Office of Housing Stability (OHS) in the Mayor’s Office of Housing. Funds are distributed by the City’s three nonprofit partners, Metro Housing|Boston, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing (NOAH), and Project Hope. The Rental Relief Fund provides income-eligible Bostonians with financial assistance to be used for rent, overdue utility bills, and moving costs. The Rental Relief Fund is currently active and continues to accept applications from households in need. Residents can find more information and apply online at boston.gov/rental-relief.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Housing Stability has provided programs and services to assist both renters and landlords. The OHS established the Rental Relief Fund to keep Boston residents safely housed. The Office has also established a robust housing court intervention program, as well as landlord mediation and virtual legal clinics to serve tenants and landlords in the City of Boston. It continues to work with all tenants with any issues they may have by providing wraparound housing services and support in addition to financial aid.
In addition to the ongoing work of the first in the nation Office of Housing Stability, Mayor Wu has announced additional initiatives aimed at keeping Boston residents in their homes. In March, she announced the formation of a Rent Stabilization Advisory Committee made up of housing advocates, developers, tenants, and other stakeholders. The advisory committee will study local housing conditions as well as the structure and outcomes of rent stabilization programs in other cities. They will make recommendations to the Mayor and the Mayor’s Office of Housing on strategies to stabilize Boston rents and protect tenants from displacement.
Also in March, Mayor Wu announced initiatives to address Boston’s housing affordability, including home rule petitions for a Transfer Fee on real estate transactions over $2 million and a Senior Property Tax Exemption expanding property tax relief for low-income seniors. In February she announced her commitment to update the City’s commercial linkage fee and Inclusionary Development policies.
About the Mayor’s Office of Housing (MOH)
The Mayor’s Office of Housing is responsible for housing people experiencing homelessness, creating and preserving affordable housing, and ensuring that renters and homeowners can obtain, maintain, and remain in safe, stable housing. The department develops and implements the City of Boston’s housing creation and homelessness prevention plans and collaborates with local and national partners to find new solutions and build more housing affordable to all, particularly those with lower incomes. For more information, please visit the MOH website.