COVID-19 End of Week Update + Memorial Day & Eid al-Fitr 5/24/20
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
This Memorial Day holiday weekend, we honor and remember our veterans who we lost in service and their families. We also celebrate the festival of Eid al-Fitr, as the fasting month of Ramadan comes to an end. As the Governor reminded us on Friday, please be careful and respect the virus.
Do not be afraid to ask for help or to offer help -- we're all in this together.
MA State Representative, 11th Suffolk
To read the Commonwealth’s Command Center daily updates: www.replizmalia.org
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On Sunday evening 5/24, buildings, bridges, flags and parks will be illuminated in gold to honor Gold Star Families. The Department of Veterans’ Services partnered with MassDOT, building managers, and Veteran service organizations across the state to invite communities to light up prominent structures on the eve of Memorial Day. A list of participating locations can be found here.
On Monday 5/25, The Virtual Memorial Day Ceremony program will stream on mass.gov/MemorialDay and on participating TV stations and digital channels with speakers and musical performers from across the Commonwealth; remarks by Governor Baker, Lt. Governor Polito, and legislative leaders; and a special “Tribute to the Fallen” by the Massachusetts National Guard.
On 5/18, the state’s Reopening Advisory Board sent a report to the Governor describing the state's Four-Phase plan to re-open our economy. This plan organizes the re-opening of various sectors of industry into four phases, each lasting at least three weeks. If public health data trends are negative, certain industries, regions, or the entire state may return to an earlier phase of the reopening. Any currently open or re-opening business must comply with industry-specific mandatory safety standards (if applicable) and have until 5/25 to do so.
Reopening Update - Phase 1: Start
We are currently in Phase 1. The first step of Phase 1 allows construction, manufacturing, and places of worship to reopen under sector-specific guidance that details necessary safety measures.
The second step of Phase 1 will begin on Monday 5/25 and will allow lab space, office space, limited personal services, and retail to reopen in the coming weeks. The personal services that will be permitted to reopen are hair salons and barbershops, car washes, and pet grooming services.
Remember, the state's phased-in reopening plan is merely a roadmap. As new information about the COVID-19 pandemic becomes available, we may need to adjust course accordingly. Mass.gov/reopening will continue to serve as the centralized webpage for all this information.
We All Need Help Sometimes
Lots of people are feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed right now.
Talk to someone who can help. Call ‘211’ or visit www.mass211.org, www.frcma.org, or https://massachusetts.networkofcare.org/mh/ for resources regarding parent/family support, clothing/household items, physical health, crisis lines/helplines, food/meals, mental health, substance abuse treatment, housing/utilities or domestic violence situations.
Housing Rental Assistance
Metro Housing announced the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) application process is now simpler and faster.
Applicants can now securely upload required documents to the user-friendly online form (rather than mailing them, sending them as email attachments, or dropping them off at Metro Housing’s office). You'll receive an immediate email confirmation when your completed application is received.
The process to apply for RAFT, which allows eligible households and individuals to apply for financial assistance (up to $4,000 per 12 month period) that can be used for rent arrears, utility arrears, and other expenses, is now fully electronic.
This rent relief program is now accepting applications through a user-friendly online form, easily accessible on all types of devices.
RAFT Policy Changes During COVID-19
The state's Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) made some policy changes to the RAFT program to ensure funding is issued quickly and is responsive to the unique and evolving needs of this time.
Households who have experienced a loss of income, or who can otherwise prove an inability to pay future housing costs, can apply for help with rent or mortgage payments BEFORE they fall behind.
A court summons or foreclosure notice is not longer needed for households to apply for help with rent or mortgage arrears.
A shutoff notice is no longer needed for a household to apply for help with utilities.
A RAFT screen score, which indicates a household's risk factors for homelessness, is automatically waived.
Regional administering agencies will be flexible with documentation requirements, including waiving documentation that cannot be produced due to COVID-19 and accepting self-statements in lieu of third-party documentation.
Federal CARES Act economic impact payments and $600 weekly additional unemployment payments will be excluded from applicants' gross income.