Hundreds of Western Mass families avoided homelessness with HAPHousing program

The RAFT program helps families with very low and extremely low incomes who are on the verge of becoming homeless.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – HAPHousing has released a report showing 676 families were kept out of emergency shelters in Hampden and Hampshire counties in fiscal years 2015 and 2016.

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT), is the state’s largest family homelessness prevention program funded by the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.  According to the report from the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts and HAPHousing, the program also saved the state nearly $23-million.

The state can pay approximately $3,000 a month to support a family with temporary shelter, over $36,000 a year.  The RAFT aid payments cost $1.6-million.  Eligible families use the flexible RAFT benefits to remain stably housed, by helping to pay for housing needs such as back rent, utility bills, child care, start-up rental expenses, moving costs and more.

Peter Gagliardi, President and CEO of HAP Housing, told 22News: “If you are renting an apartment that goes for $1,000 a month, and three bedroom apartments do these days, or more, you may have to come up with the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent, a security deposit. That’s a lot of money to raise. Especially if your income is limited.”

Most of the people who benefit from RAFT are women, many of which are single mothers. You can apply through HAP housing or another state housing agency.

Learn more about the programs and services provided by HAPHousing at their website.