Sunday, April 21, 2024

Two Cambridge institutions have teamed up to help families in Chelsea, Revere, Everett and Malden: The nonprofit developer Just-A-Start and Cambridge Savings Charitable Foundation, the charitable arm of Cambridge Savings Bank, which are offering emergency rental assistance and affordable housing. The foundation extended a total of $90,000 in grants to Just-A-Start: $50,000 in June and an additional $40,000 in December.

“As the economic fallout of the pandemic continues, so many community members who have lost income are struggling to pay rent and hold on to their housing,” said Carl Nagy-Koechlin, executive director at Just-A-Start. “We expect the need for services to increase dramatically throughout the coming months. These funds from Cambridge Savings Charitable Foundation have allowed us to quickly and flexibly provide more security and relief to these families.”

Eviction moratoriums defer rental payments for tenants but do not forgive the rent itself, so many households remain on the edge of stability with their past-due amounts growing. And many contractual sources of rental assistance cannot be accessed unless an eviction proceeding is underway, leaving families with fewer sources of financial support, the organizations said in a Thursday press release.

Just-A-Start mediates in housing courts across the Metro North area, and the availability of rental aid can help tenants and landlords during mediation, the organizations said. They gave a couple examples of how the rental assistance has helped, including letting a family avoid relocating to an emergency shelter in a different town so their daughter could finish her senior year in high school. In another case they described, a tenant was about to serve as a kidney donor for a family member and if her housing had become destabilized, the hospital would have refused her as an eligible donor. Through mediation and rental assistance, now both families can maintain stable homes as they weather the pandemic.

“Their efforts to assist the day-to-day living needs of families and to keep them in their homes during the pandemic has been so critical,” said Wayne Patenaude, president and chief executive at the bank, referring to Just-A-Start.

Tenants in Chelsea, Revere, Everett, and Malden in need of rental aid can call (617) 494-0444 to explore options for support.

This post took significant amounts of material from a press release.