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Social Determinants of Health
Social Determinants of Health
Social determinants of health (SDOH) relate to the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. There are many factors that contribute to an individual’s or family’s ability to thrive or achieve equity. The EAP has gathered some relevant resources to support those who are facing challenges.
Please contact the Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program at 866-724-4327 if you need further assistance.
EAP Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) Information Guide
Types of Housing Assistance and Shelter
There are many situations one can find themselves in when
it comes to needing housing.
Requiring immediate or emergency shelter
Requiring assistance in navigating a housing search
Requiring financial assistance or affordable housing options
If you are currently in a situation where you do not have a place to go right now, please look under the Massachusetts Emergency Shelter section.
You may currently have a place to live but need more support in being able to pay for your living expenses or are looking to apply to a subsidized housing complex. If you fall into this category, please look under the Types of Affordable Housing Section.
If you are at a point where you are looking for support in navigating a housing search where you may already have state benefits or not, please navigate to the Housing Search Process section.
Massachusetts Emergency Shelter
If you have found yourself in a situation where you need immediate shelter, please call the Department of Housing and Community Development at (866) 584-0653
There are multiple ways to find emergency shelter throughout the state. Some cities (Boston, Worcester, and New Bedford) offer their own online homelessness resources.
If you are concerned with impending eviction, please contact the Eviction Prevention Hotline at (857) 415-2900.
If you are fleeing domestic violence and require shelter there are multiple resources which you can contact who will help you through the process of finding shelter, securing support for family members with you that are under the age of 18, and protecting you from your abuser.
The SafeLink Massachusetts Domestic Violence Hotline can connect you with in-state support networks and shelters. They connect you to an advocate who can, within a single call, connect you with resources in your area. To contact them, please call their hotline at (877) 785-2020
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a nationwide resource which can lead you to local agencies, but do not have as many connections as the SafeLink Hotline.
If you are specifically looking for domestic violence shelters in your area you can contact the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless at (781) 595-7570 to have one of their advocates help you get in contact with shelters.
RAFT and ERMA
Metro Housing Boston manage the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) and Emergency Rent and Mortgage Assistance (ERMA) initiatives in Massachusetts. These programs can provide up to $10,000 in order to help households keep their housing, obtain new housing, or prevent households from becoming homeless.
Eligibility for RAFT and ERMA can vary greatly between households based on income, size, and other factors. As a baseline, households must be below 80% of their area median income and they must provide documentation/proof that they are currently experiencing a housing crisis.
Subsidized: (public housing) financed by MassHousing
Income-restricted: Involves a pre-screen and final-screening; may include lottery selection.
Vouchers: Section 8, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), Massachusetts Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP)
There are different applications and requirements for each type. You may qualify for some types of housing, but not for others. The best programs for you will depend on your income and household needs.
What is State Public Housing?
It comes in all sizes and types
Operated by 240 Local Housing Authorities throughout the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
CHAMP Website: Universal Application (went “live” on April 10, 2019)
Some cities have separate applications: e.g., Boston
Lists affordable properties throughout MA, sorted by city
Each property maintains its own waitlist, so need to call each individually and request an application
Rental Assistance Program
Providing financial aid to help people afford apartments outside of public housing.
The 3 largest programs are:
The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program (HCVP)
The Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)
and The Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP)
Section 8 Choice Voucher
It works almost like a coupon for rent
Vouchers provider a certain amount of money for rent each month
Once the voucher is issued, an individual only has a limited amount of time to find a unit (it has an expiration date)
Section 8 Eligibility
75% of selected households for Section 8 must have incomes within 30% of the area median income (ex. $24,800 for a family of four in Boston)
The other 25% of vouchers have up to 50% of the median income of the area (ex. $41,350 for a family of four in Boston)
Income limits are based on number of household members
For households above 30% of the area’s median income must meet one of three preferences:
– Involuntarily displaced due to fire, natural disaster, government action, domestic violence, having a disability or threats due to witnessing a crime
– Living in substandard housing or being homeless
– Paying more than 50% of your income for rent for more than 90 days
Flexibility – People can search anywhere for an apartment
Security – The landlord knows the rent will be paid each month
Discrimination: it’s illegal for landlords to discriminate against people with vouchers, but it happens.
Waitlists: The sooner you get on a list, the better
Massachusetts Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP)
Provides rental assistance to people with disabilities under the age of 60 who live in or are eligible to live in elderly/disabled state assisted public housing.
Recipients pay 25% of their income for rent or 30% if utilities are included in rent.
To apply, applicants must contact their Local Housing Authority to see if they have an AHVP program. You may also call the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development. (DHCD) DHCD Phone number: (617) 573-1150
Project Based Voucher (PBV)
Subsidy is connected to a specific apartment in a specific building.
Rent will be 30% of a person’s income and will be adjusted up or down if one’s income grows or shrinks.
There is a universal Section 8 housing choice voucher program, but many properties also maintain their own waitlists, meaning if interested, one has to apply to each specific property.
Some of these waitlists are shorter than others.
Local Housing Authority (LHA)
Housing Authorities are independent non-profits which manage public housing in their area.
They function independently with local governments but follow federal regulations.
Local Housing Authorities are the institutions to contact about more details about public housing in your area as well as how to apply for multiple forms of public and federal housing.
When determining if you qualify for affordable housing in Massachusetts some forms of aid scale off
of federal income guidelines, but most are determined by the income of the area you are living in. Massachusetts puts out a chart dictating net income limits by household size in order to qualify for State-Aided Housing Programs by region.
The following are the numbers to determine admission for State-Aided Housing Programs for a few of the major area in Massachusetts in 2021:
Local Housing Authorities will also assist you in determining whether or not you fall within the income limits for affordable housing.
For some financial assistance such as childcare, eligibility is based on household income in relation to the state median income. The following are the current income brackets in relation to state median income:
% of State Median Income (SMI)
Fair housing is the right to choose housing free from unlawful discrimination. Federal, state, and local fair housing laws protect people from discrimination in housing transactions such as rentals, sales, lending, and insurance.
Fair housing organizations assist people who believe they have been victims of housing discrimination. They work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development to connects victims to the correct government agencies to handle their complaints. They will also conduct preliminary investigations into properties suspected of practicing housing discrimination.
If you feel that you have been the victim of housing discrimination, you can contact MassFairHousing online or by phone at 413-539-9796.
The Tenancy Preservation Program (TTP) is a homelessness prevention program that work with tenants facing eviction as a result of a disability in order to preserve the tenancy and help accommodate the disability.
Eligibility is based on meeting all three of the following criteria
– A household member with a disability and disability related violation to the lease
– The household is at risk for eviction, as documented by a Notice to Quit or Notice of Lease Termination
– Tenancy can be preserved
– The tenant can afford the rent by existing or other available means
– There cannot be a move-out agreement of execution in place
-The tenant and landlord must be willing to participate
To apply for TTP, please contact the Massachusetts Housing Court via phone at 617-788-6500 or at their helpline at 833-912-6878
Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL)
BCIL protects and provides services to people with disabilities.
They provide workshops and assistance for people with disabilities to help access affordable housing options.
They offer many other forms of support and educational opportunities as such as support for victims of domestic violence and referrals to local agencies for support.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps, is a federal nutrition program that provides monthly financial assistance to purchase groceries that is run by the Department of Transitional Assistance.
When you reach out to Project Bread via phone you will speak to one of their coordinators who will ask you screening questions about your situation.
If you do not currently receive SNAP benefits and are eligible, they will assist you in starting your application for them.
If you do not qualify for SNAP benefits, they will help direct you to food pantries and other resources in your area.
Women, Infants and Children Nutrition Program (WIC)
WIC is a nutrition program that provides nutrition and healthcare support to families with pregnant women and children ages 5 and under who qualify.
To be eligible, your household income must be at or below 185% of the federal poverty level ($49,025 for a family of four)
If you are currently receiving MassHealth/Medicaid insurance, TAFDC or SNAP benefits you are automatically income-eligible for WIC
Foster parents can enroll their babies and children under 5 regardless of their income
You can apply for WIC online or by phone at https://www.mass.gov/forms/apply-for-wic-online or (800) 942-1007. When you apply you will provide information and then make an appointment at a local WIC clinic. To apply you will need three forms of proof of identity and income:
Proof of current household income such as pay stubs or a letter from your employer
Proof that you live in Massachusetts such as a piece of mail addressed to you, rent receipts, or a driver’s license
Proof of identity such as a driver’s license, passport, or birth certificate
At your appointment, the agent you are working with will go over income information to determine eligibility, they will then do a brief health assessment of you and your children, they will provide education about good nutrition and healthy eating, finally if you qualify for benefits, they will issue you a WIC card and go over how to access your benefits.
Financial support with utilities comes in two forms,
either discounted rates directly from vendors
or support from non-profit agencies.
National Grid has a program which provides utility assistance to those in need.
Eligibility for National Grid assistance is based on your household income which cannot exceed 60% of the state median income.
LEO Inc provides utility assistance to residents of households in Lynn, Lynnfield, Nahant, Saugus, Swampscott and Wakefield.
New applicants should call 781-309-5639.
Documents can be mailed to their office at 156 Broad St, Lynn, MA 01901 or sent via email at email@example.com
Child Care Assistance
Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCRs) receive funding from the Department of Early Education and Care to provide families with resources, referrals, and assistance to help meet their childcare needs. CCRs are responsible for different regions of the state. Here are the seven major CCRs and their regions:
Child Care Choices of Boston/ABCD
Community Care for Kids, Quincy Community Action Program
Child Care Circuit
(800) 660-2868 or
South Shore and Cape Cod
CACCI/Child Care Network
Southern Massachusetts (Bristol and Southern Norfolk Counties)
P.A.C.E Inc Child Care Works
Children’s Aid & Family Service
(508) 856-7930 or
New England Farm Workers’ Council
To qualify for childcare assistance your household must be at or below 50% of the state median income (SMI).
If you have a documented disability or special need then your household income must be at or below 85% of the state median.
You can refer to the Income Eligibility for Affordable Housing and Other Financial Assistance section for a list of the different SMI brackets.
You must also be working, seeking employment, or enrolled in an educational program for a minimum of at least 20 hours a week, over 65 and retired, or have a diagnosed and documented disability or special need.
Mass 211 is a hotline service in Massachusetts that is connected to the CCR network. When you call their hotline, you will get connected with one of their agents who can help you in submitting applications for childcare vouchers and other forms of financial assistance and also connect you to other resources in your local area.
You can reach them by calling 2-1-1 or (877) 211-6277
MGB Employees have access to both traditional childcare as well as back-up childcare through the Ask My HR portal. Depending on your income level you are able to sign up for different types of care at reduced rates through the contracted childcare entities such as Bright Horizons.
Your EAP clinician can also assist you in setting up childcare through the institution.
Furniture Assistance ranges across the state. It can take the form of free furniture or vouchers for buying furniture at a discount. Multiple entities exist across the state that provide help.
My Brother’s Keeper
A Christian ministry that provides free furniture assistance to households in the Dartmouth and
Easton areas. They deliver needed furniture to households within their service area.
To apply for help please call contact the location closest to you.
Easton: 508-238-7512 Dartmouth: 774-305-4577
An agency which provides free furniture to households across the state. Once you are accepted as a client you are given a meeting to pick up furniture from one of their locations. To be eligible for their services you must have a referral from a social service, healthcare provider, faith community or other organization.
Once you have a referrer, they will have to fill out a Client Referral form to set up an appointment for you. Your referrer will be the point of contact for your case at Household Goods. They will provide you with the date and time of your appointment.
Once you have been accepted as a client and have an appointment date, you will need to fill out a client checklist to give information about your household and what furniture you need. You will also need to procure a vehicle to transport the furniture that you are given.
Bob’s Discount Furniture Charitable Foundation provides financial assistance to be used towards furniture. They do not provide their assistance directly to individuals, instead they require a non-profit organization to function as a go-between. To apply for help, an agency must submit a letter on your behalf on agency letterhead to the foundation. Letters can be submitted via email at Kathryn.Pianta@mybobs.com or by US mail addressed to: Bob’s Discount Furniture Charitable Foundation. 434 Tolland Turnpike, Manchester, CT 06042
If you are interested in applying for support, please ask your EAP counselor to write a letter on your behalf in order to begin the application process.
Getting help with legal issues is very often confusing and cost prohibitive. It can be difficult to find the right lawyers and even then, one that is in your price range. There are multiple services in Massachusetts which can assist you in finding the right kind of legal support.
Consolidated Legal Concepts (CLC)
CLC is a company which connects clients with attorneys in their area free of charge. They have a robust legal network which helps find an attorney that fits the client’s budget and needs. They also directly offer mediation services and education services for managing identity theft.
A legal service which offers advice and representation for non-criminal legal problems to low-income individuals in the greater Boston area. Eligibility is based on annual household income. GBLS serves families that are at or below 125% of the poverty line ($33,125 for a family of 4 in 2021).
They have a varied staff of lawyers and paralegals which have expertise in a variety of fields. Greater Boston Legal Services can help with the following types of legal issues:
Abuse Prevention Orders for Elders, DV Survivors, and Disabled
Criminal Record Sealing and Re-Entry
Debt Collection and Bankruptcy
Education and School to Prison Pipeline
Employment and Unemployment Benefits
Healthcare Benefits and Nursing Home Rights
Social Security, SSI, and State Benefits
Victims of Crime
To reach them and you are a first-time client, you can call 617-603-1700 to access their intake service.
Northeast Legal Aid (NLA)
Northeast Legal Aid provides free civil legal services to low income and elder residents of Northeast Massachusetts. They have offices in Lynn, Lawrence, and Lowell and an outreach office in Haverhill.
To be eligible for their services you must live in a low-income household and have limited assets. There is no financial eligibility requirement if you are an elder or if you are a victim of crime or survivor of homicide with a legal problem related to victimization.
DLC is a protection and advocacy agency in Massachusetts for people with disabilities. They cover a large range of legal issues related to people with disabilities, focusing on priority cases over others. Their highest priority are cases that are disability-related such as individuals who experience discrimination, abuse or neglect, or denial of services because of their disability. They will also assist with other legal issues for people with disabilities if the staff have the time and resources available.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This site is not intended to provide any clinical assessment, counseling or other type of intervention. The Mass General Brigham EAP provides links to external websites for your convenience. The EAP is not responsible for the availability, accuracy, or content of outside resources or sites, nor does it endorse them. If you notice any malfunctioning links, please contact the us at: EAP@partners.org. The Mass General Brigham EAP is not a service available to the general public. For more information or to discuss concerns, please contact the Mass General Brigham EAP at 866-724-4327.
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