The Online Resource for Massachusetts Poverty Law Advocates

13. How long does it take to be placed in EA shelter?

If your family has no place to stay and you appear to meet the other EA eligibility rules, you should be placed immediately. Unfortunately, under the strict regulations discussed in Question 8, some families are not eligible unless and until they have actually stayed in a situation “not meant for human habitation” or until they can prove they have been moving from place to place in a pattern of "irregular housing" (“chronic couch surfing”).

In addition, DHCD often delays taking or finalizing an EA application and making a decision. So it is important to go to DHCD and begin the process of applying in advance of when you are actually eligible, so that you can be placed as soon as possible once your family has no safe place to stay. 

Advocacy Tips:

  • DHCD should not delay placing you in shelter if you qualify for EA. Contact an advocate if DHCD tries to postpone placing you and you have no safe place to stay.
  • DHCD has an agreement with the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to do health and safety assessments of housing arrangements that families claim are not safe or no longer available. The new state budget for fiscal year 2019 also allows other entities to conduct health and safety assessments. The assessments should not delay placements in EA shelter. If the assessment cannot be done immediately or if you can no longer stay in the housing that is to be assessed or it is not safe and you are otherwise eligible for EA, you should be placed presumtively until the assessment can be completed (see Question 12). Contact an advocate if you feel discouraged from seeking shelter because of an assessment or if you have nowhere to stay and DHCD is delaying your placement pending a health and safetyassessment.

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