Rental Assistance (RAFT) Program

RAFT, a state-funded program, stands for “Rental Assistance to Families in Transition.” (Please note: While the name refers to “families,” individuals may also apply.)

The goal of the RAFT program is to keep households in stable housing whether faced with eviction, loss of utilities, or a need to move to a better housing situation.

It is funded by the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD).

Current Massachusetts law requires that courts pause non-payment eviction cases when tenants have pending applications for rental assistance. This protection, extended until March 31, 2023, will ensure that courts do not issue eviction orders while tenants are seeking rental assistance. 

  • Households can apply for up to $10,000 per 12-month period.
  • You can use the same application to apply either for help with rent and/or utilities, or for help with a move (first and last month’s rent, security deposit, moving expenses and furniture).
  • Payment for utilities cannot equal more than $2500 of the $10,000 per year.
  • Payment for furniture cannot equal more than $1000 of the $10,000 per year.
    • If you are not approved for furniture, you can apply instead to Household Goods.  (This program requires a professional at a human services agency of your choice to submit an intake form on your behalf.)
  • All funds are paid to the landlord or third party (such as a moving company), not to the tenant.
  • If applying for moving expenses: identify an apartment to rent, but do not move in until you have been approved and the apartment has been inspected by the approving agency. RAFT will not pay for moving expenses retroactively.
  • RAFT does not pay for real estate agent fees.


Your household’s income must be 50% or less of the average median income (AMI) for your area.

What housing situations are eligible?

  • Back Rent/Eviction (must have a Notice to Quit)
  • Utility shutoff (must have a Shut-Off Notice)
  • Overcrowding (doubled-up and must leave)
  • Health and safety issues threatening the tenancy
  • Domestic violence
  • Fire, flood or natural disaster
  • Any other crisis that will result in imminent housing loss or instability

The Application Process

The fastest way to get your application processed is to submit it online.  After you have scanned your documents and prepared them for uploading, apply here.   (If you need to upload additional documents later, you can upload them here.)

After you submit your application online, it will be sent to one of the following two agencies:

Tip: The RAFT application does not ask for immigration status. Households of any immigration status are welcome to apply.

Tip: When you submit your RAFT application online, the very last screen you see will display a copy of your application, which includes your application ID number. You will then be given an option to send a copy of your application, which includes your ID number, to your email address.  This the best way to ensure that you do not lose track of the number.  You will need it if you have any questions about your application later.

Tip: If you are unable to submit an online application, and wish to request a paper application mailed to you, call the agency for your town, listed below, or send them an email with your full name and address with the subject line: “Request for paper app.”                

Tip: After you apply, be sure to check your mail/email on a regular basis for messages from the agency.

Required Documents

Before you apply, make sure that you have all of the required documents ready to submit with your application.

Otherwise, your application process may be delayed --or you may even have to start over.

Here is a list of the documents that you will need to submit:

  • Photo ID (for the primary “applicant” only )
  • Proof of current housing:
    1. a lease or a rent ledger with your name and address on it, or
    2. a letter from the property owner with the date, his name, your name and address, and the amount of rent you pay per pay period (week or month).
      1.  (DHCD offers a simple template for landlords who would like to create a written month-to-month rental agreement -- also called a “tenancy at will”).    
  • Verification of housing crisis: If you are applying for help with rent, you must submit a “Notice to Quit” that you have received from your landlord.
  • If you are applying for help with utilities, you must provide a shut-off notice from the utility company.
  • Verification of Income for each adult (18+years old):
    1. Important: If anyone in the household is a recipient of assistance from the Department of Transitional Assistance (TAFDC, SNAP) or Mass Health, the household is presumed eligible. (The RAFT agency can look up your DTA or Mass Health status online using your Social Security number, or you can provide proof in the form of an account statement – which must have a date on it -- from either agency.)
    2. If an adult in the household has no income, they can indicate that on the application.
    3.  Wage-earners: 4 recent paystubs (from each employer)
    4.  Independent contractors: bank statements showing deposits, or last year’s federal tax return including Form 1099
    5.  Current annual Social Security letter, pension statement, etc.
    6. If none of these are available, talk to your agency’s case manager


Tip: If you, the tenant, are applying for rental assistance, the agency will contact your landlord.  Your landlord will be asked to submit a signed W9 (IRS tax form) before they can receive any funds.  In addition, if your landlord wishes to receive funds by direct deposit (which is recommended because it is faster), they must submit a voided check and a completed direct deposit form to the agency. In order to expedite the application process, either your landlord or you can upload them here.

Tip: From “Landlords should be aware that Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws prohibits discrimination by a landlord against any tenant who receives federal, state or local housing subsidies, including rental assistance, because the individual is such a recipient.  A landlord's refusal to accept emergency rental assistance that covers the entire amount owed to the landlord, may,in some circumstances, constitute a violation of Chapter 151B. Landlords should consult their own legal counsel for advice before declining rental assistance that covers all outstanding rent arrears.”

The Post-Submission Process

  1. After you have submitted your application, the agency will assign your case to a case manager.  (If you are concerned about how long it is taking for the agency to respond to you, you may call or email the agency at the contact information above.  Be sure to include your name, application number, zip code, your date of birth, as well as the date that you applied.)
  2. Once a case manager is assigned to your case, she will review your file. The case manager may contact you by phone or email to request additional documentation, such as a more recent series of paystubs, or a more recent rent ledger or utility bill. If the case manager asks you for additional documents, she will send you an email giving you 10 business days (14 calendar days) to send her the requested documents, and notifying you that if you do not do so, your case will be closed.

Here is the link to upload your documents.

  1. After the agency has made a decision, they will notify you (and your landlord and/or utility company by email or US mail, as to whether it has been approved or denied; and if approved, for what amount.
  2. If your application is approved, they will send you an “award letter” with proof of the amount of the award, and they will contact your landlord or utility company to arrange the payment.
  3. If your application is denied, you may request an administrative review (appeal) of the denial. This request must be made within 10 business days of the date of the denial letter. Instructions for requesting an administrative review will be found on the denial letter.
  4. There is no administrative review process for “time-outs” (when the applicant does not submit all the requested documents within 10 business days), because they are not considered “denials.”