Looking For Housing Is A Full Time Job! The challenges involved in obtaining subsidized housing in this town are not small. This information is designed to assist people in need of subsidized housing. Everyone has a right to a clean, warm, place to sleep. Every child has a right to remember a “HOME.” If you are a landlord; please consider taking a few certificate holders as tenants. You will sleep better for it. If you are a person seeking subsidized housing; read on, and I wish you the best of luck! Your home is out there!
Step 1: Keep a housing search file of your own
- Use a notebook and folders.
- Keep a log of every phone call to housing authorities – H.A., management companies, landlords, housing advocates and, once you have one, your section 8 coordinator.
- Keep a list of every place you have applied for H.A..
- Keep copies of the applications that you have mailed.
- Keep every piece of paper that you get from H.A. & management companies.
- Make a chart to keep track of everything that you do.
- The chart should have the name of every H.A. and management company, with the names, numbers, extensions, and times they are working. The type of section 8 program you are applying for. The type of public housing status. The date you mailed the application. The control number that they have assigned to you.
This will help you get housing faster. Also, keep a pile of change of address and phone number forms at all times. If anyone cannot find you they will drop you from their waiting lists immediately!
Advocacy Skills: Getting What You Need…
Prepare yourself in advance.
Take time to organize your thoughts, questions, and facts before you make a phone call which will make you a more effective advocate. Write a list of what you want to say and refer to it during your phone call or meeting. Start with a brief, chronological summary of your situation, and follow it with your questions and concerns.
Keep records on everything.
Make copies of any documents. Take notes on all phone conversations and meetings, including the date and time, and the names of the people you speak to. This helps you keep track of what you have done and what lies ahead. It helps to have proof and to have copies to send them when H.A. and landlords lose your paperwork. It also allows you to present yourself as an organized, knowledgeable, and determined advocate.
Learn your rights.
The more you know about your rights and responsibilities in a given situation, the better advocate you will be. Many organizations (particularly state and federal agencies) have a “consumer’s handbook” you can request. You can also get copies of state laws and regulations, for a small fee, from the State House Bookstore, Statehouse Room 116, Boston, MA 02133. (617) 727-2834.
Get what you came for.
People can be impatient or rude or use technical language or acronyms you don’t understand. Stay calm and politely ask again, or ask for help from someone else.
Appeal if you are denied a service. Often, your chances for receiving the service improve with an appeal.
Keep in touch.
When you request a service, ask when you will hear back and how they will contact you. Put that date on your calendar. If they don’t respond in time, you will know and call them to politely check in. Persistent inquiries – by phone or by mail – will keep your situation from getting lost in the shuffle.
Take it to the next level.
If you are having difficulty working with an advocate, set time aside to discuss it with them. Explain what you see as the problems and ask what you can expect as solutions. If you are still dissatisfied, as to speak to their supervisor.
When all else fails, personalize.
Sometimes the people who are supposed to be working for us, for whatever reason, burn-out, do not feel the need to be supportive of us. Be very friendly. Describe some of the day-to-day details of your situation. Seek a mutual point of interest. Admit your feelings, but do not lose control.
Get help and support
Advocacy is hard work. Ask a family member to accompany you to appointments. Speak to an encouraging friend before you make a difficult call. Check your facts with an advocate while composing a letter. Emotional support will help you keep going!
Gentle persistence is the key.
Do not be mean or rude! Be respectful and kind! Say thank you for the help you receive. If their work is recognized, they will be more motivated to assist you in the future. Even if you are met with rudeness, it is in your best interest not to escalate the situation! Just continue asking your questions and making your point. Polite perseverance is a powerful tool!
Questions for H.A.
- What programs can I apply for?
- Will the H.A. mail the applications?
- Can I come and apply in person? When?
- How does the H.A. prioritize or “rank” the federal preferences? Do they use local preferences?
- Apply for everything-“lay down paper”: Section 8 Vouchers & Certificates, Alternative Housing Voucher Program – A.H.V.P.’s, Mass. Housing Voucher Program – M.H.V.P.’s, Project Based Developments, Federal and State Public Housing, Mass. Housing Finance Agency Properties. Ask the advocate to explain the differences between all the different programs.
- Apply to EVERY H.A. in the state! You can get the list from a pink book called “How to Obtain Housing Assistance in Massachusetts: A Handbook of Housing Resources” at The Department of Housing and Community Development at (617) 727-7130.
- Apply at your local H.A.
- Apply for privately owned, subsidized apartments. Call the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (617) 565-5102 and ask for the book called “List of HUD-GHA Multifamily Housing. ALso, call the Mass. Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) at (617) 451-3480 and ask for the book called “Housing List”.
After You Have A Section 8
- State your needs clearly and use specific terms. Make a list of what you do and do not want, as well as what you would be willing to compromise on.
- Be realistic but choose carefully, you don’t want to get stuck with a falling down total dump. But be willing to compromise. You can always get something better next year.
- Move quickly, if something seems like it is not quite right make the call anyway and see if you can negotiate the difference.
- Keep up with the changes in the Fair Market Rates – F.M.R. – for the areas where you are looking for a home.
- Opportunity knocks. Grocery store bulletin boards, check everything, everywhere. Newspapers, the web, housing advocates, homeless agencies, disabled agencies, friends and acquaintances, make flyers, do mailings.
- (Again) Enlist professional help. Know your rights.
- Remember, you must sell yourself to a landlord, building manager, or Realtor as much if not more than the members of this state’s H.A.
Possibilities For Where To Look
- “Cold Call” Every real estate & management company in your phone book.
- Boston Fair Housing Commission Housing Referral Guide.
- Publicly Funded Privaste Housing Complexes Locations.
- Private Housing Developments that accept a percentage of Section 8’s.
- Travel to learn where the new buildings are constructed.
- Call local town community housing, zoning, assessors, or planning departments.
- Domestic Violence Programs that have housing advocates.
- A.B.C.D. (617) 357-6000.
- The Multi-Services Center, Disablilities Center, or Housing Coalition in your local area.
- Boston Self Help Center (617) 277-0080.
- Mass. Office on Disability (800) 322-2020.
- Boston Center for independent Living (617) 338-6665.
- C.E.O.C. (617) 868-2900.
- Tri-city Community Action Plan (781) 322-4125.
- Disability Law Center (617) 723-8455.
- Liston’s New Section 8 Listings (508) 771-5400 #4 (After 5 PM).
- Greater Boston Legal Services (617) 371-1234.
- Bristol Housing Service (781) 891-9510.
- Mass. Coalition for the Homeless (617) 737-3508.
- Boston Aging Concerns (617) 266-2257.
- CASCAP (617) 503-2704.
- CHAPA – Mass. Access Program (617) 742-0820.
- Read the write ups in your local real estate sections which will tell you what is being built next.
- Local College and University’s commuter housing offices.
- Local Religious Institutions.
- Just A Start (617) 494-4440.
- Women’s Alliance (508) 303-9960.
- HUD (617) 565-5102.
- EOCD (617) 727-3240.
- Mass. Coalition for the Homeless (MCH) (617) 737-3508.
- Mass. Housing Finance Agency (MHFA) (617) 854-1000.
- Mass. Dept. of Housing & Community Development (DHCD) (617) 727-7130. http://www.state.ma.us/dhcd
- Metro List-Boston Fair Housing Commission (ML-BFHC) (617) 635-3321.
- Your local: Anti-Poverty Organization, Community or Action Agency, Community Economic Opportunity Commission or Homeowners Rehabilitation Commission, etc.
- Metro-Housing (617) 859-0400.
- Community Development (617) 349-4619.
- Eviction Free Zone (617) 354-1300.
- Travelers Aid (617) 542-7286.
You will get discouraged, but do not give up!