Rent and mortgage requests hit record levels in MA

Two powerful forces are driving requests for rent and mortgage assistance to all-time highs in Massachusetts. We examined 12,395 requests to Massachusetts 2-1-1 for help with rent or mortgage payments in 2020. As the chart shows, the number of requests per day prior to COVID-19 rarely topped 20, more than tripled in the early days of the pandemic, stabilized at 50% greater than the pre-COVID rate, then burst to record levels in mid-October. From October 15 to November 15, 2-1-1 reported an average of 133 requests for rent or mortgage assistance per day. The peak in mid-October was over 200 requests per day, more than ten times the pre-COVID rate. This latest surge is powered by two factors. First, Massachusetts’ statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures ended October 17, corresponding to a dramatic rise in requests to 2-1-1. Second, state government in MA began referring residents to 2-1-1 to see if they are eligible for emergency rent and mortgage assistance through the RAFT and ERMA programs. Prior Focus-19 reports have shown how expiring protections for renters and availability of resources to help pay rent and mortgage both increase call volume to 2-1-1. These findings from Massachusetts suggests that combining the two can exponentially increase demand. Data were obtained from 2-1-1 Counts, a daily tracking system of community needs in MA and 34 other states. All requests received between January 1 and November 15, 2020 are included. The chart shows daily request totals (bars) and a 7-day moving average of requests (line). Mouse over each bar to see the total requests received that day.

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