Baker announces $20 million to support vital services, small businesses

Massachusetts

BOSTON (WPRI) — Governor Charlie Baker announced Thursday nearly $20 million in funding to aid Massachusetts communities in providing vital services to low-income residents and small businesses affected by the pandemic.

Local governments are expected to use the funding for social services such as homelessness prevention, food pantries and assistance, and job training for health care workers and technicians, Baker said. Communities can also use the grants to support businesses with five or less employees.

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) received the $19.6 million in funding through the Community Development Block Grant program, according to Baker. Congress allocated new emergency funding for the program through the CARES Act.

DHCD has received $46 million so far, which it said will also fund a $20 million emergency rental and mortgage assistance program. The agency aims to help low-income households that have lost employment or income due to COVID-19 maintain housing.

Baker said that program builds upon the state’s existing homelessness prevention program, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT).

“If you are a low-income household that’s facing financial hardships related to COVID-19, please reach out to one of the 11 regional RAFT-administering agencies,” he said.

Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito also announced that North Attleborough will be added to the list of eligible communities in the Housing Choice Initiative, which encourages cities and towns to create new housing. Fall River, Seekonk and Taunton were designated in the past.

“The impact of stable housing has never been clearer.” Polito said.

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health reported an additional 11 COVID-19 related deaths on Thursday and 143 newly confirmed cases.

Full breakdown of Thursday’s COVID-19 data (Mass.gov) »

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