Assistance is available for renters and homeowners facing economic hardships during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We want to make sure the residents of Chelsea know about all of the housing resources that are available to (them) as well as utility assistance resources,” said city Housing and Community Preservation Coordinator Oriana Reilly. “We know it is winter and fuel prices have gone up, and (residents) have many rights as tenants, (they) have rights to live in a safe, warm home throughout the winter.”
Reilly said the city and the Department of Housing and Community Development want residents to know about the resources available for utility and rental assistance.
“Right now, there is a moratorium on utility shutoffs,” said Reilly. “It is not allowed for Eversource or National Grid to turn off your heat until March 15. However, they can turn off your electricity and heat after March 15, and you will still have debt if you haven’t paid your bills.”
Residents should start planning ahead to figure out how they will be able to handle that debt.
“You can apply for help paying your utility bills through rental assistance programs that already exist,” said Reilly.
Those rental assistance programs are available through TND Connect at (617) 712-3487, La Colaborativa at (617) 889-6080, Metro Housing Boston at (617) 425-6700, and CAPIC at (617) 884-6130.
“We really recommend that you call these organizations to find out what you might be eligible for and what your options are to start paying your utility bills now before you start running into issues in the spring,” said Reilly. “You might also be eligible for a reduced payment for your energy bills and you can contact National Grid for gas or Eversource for electricity to pay less per kilowatt hour on your bills if you are lower income.”
There is also some funding available through the city for help with utility bills. The programs are available regardless of immigration status.
“If you are facing eviction, just know that you have rights and you don’t have to leave your home immediately,” said Reilly. “Your landlord cannot change the locks on you, it is illegal no matter if you have a lease or not. If you pay month to month, you still have rights.”
If a landlord does change the locks on an apartment, Reilly said the tenants should contact the Chelsea Police Department.
“We also recommend that you immediately contact the City of Chelsea free legal clinic,” said Reilly. “It is available for any legal questions you have related to housing and whatever support you need going forward.”
The legal clinic is available on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room 102 of City Hall, or by calling (781) 322-9199, ext. 157.
Tenants who are having issues paying their rent can also contact TND Connect, La Colaborativa, and CAPIC for rental assistance. Rosie’s Place also provides rental and utility assistance for women at (617) 442-9322.
“We also have emergency housing resources at the City of Chelsea,” said Reilly. “If you are currently homeless or about to be homeless, you can call the same number as the legal hotline and they will find you a shelter to stay the night as well as help searching for housing for the long term.”
Low-income homeowners can call the city information line at 311 to find out about programs available for assistance with mortgages and taxes through the Homeowner Stabilization Program. Homeowners who are facing foreclosure can contact the Chelsea Restoration Corporation at (617) 889-2277.