Report Shows Continued Need for Housing Help on Cape Cod, Across State

CCB MEDIA PHOTO NOAH Shelter in Hyannis

CCB MEDIA PHOTO
NOAH Shelter in Hyannis

HYANNIS – A report released yesterday from Housing Assistance Corporation and the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts shows the continued need for an assistance program to keep families from becoming homeless.

The Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, or RAFT, provides up to $4,000 each year to keep families in their homes.

Demand for the program is growing slightly statewide and locally. Cape Cod saw a 4 percent increase in clients from fiscal year 2015 to 2016, according to HAC’s Noah Hoffenberg, the report’s author.

Families who earn up to 50 percent of the area’s median income are eligible for the RAFT program.

“All it takes is one automobile mishap or one trip to the hospital or some other unexpected bill or crisis to push a family over the edge,” Hoffenberg said.

The majority of clients who benefit from the program are single mothers with one or two children. On Cape Cod, the average number of family members per case were two in fiscal year 2015 and three in 2016.

“This program is really and truly about women and children,” Hoffenberg said.

Eligible families use the RAFT benefits to stay in their homes or apartments by paying for things like owed back rent, utility bills, child care, start-up rental expenses and moving costs.

Over the last four or five years, the average income in the state has increased by just 6 percent while rent has increased by 11 percent.

“We have an especially difficult time here on Cape Cod because we are a desirable destination and there is high demand for properties here whether they are home ownership or rental,” Hoffenberg said. “And it creates a very high pressure market which precipitates RAFT clients.”

Hoffenberg said the data shows the program is effective as only 9 percent of RAFT clients in 2016 received assistance the previous year.

According to the report, the program also saves the state from having to pay to keep families sheltered.

The approximate cost to keep a family sheltered for the average 10 and a half month time period is $36,855.

In fiscal year 2016, 83 Cape Cod families benefited from the RAFT program with aid payments totaling $234,232.

In the HAC service area, the program saved the state about $2.8 million in possible sheltering costs.

The program is state funded and money is distributed to private non-profits in different regions.

By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter.

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