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COVID impact rental assistance now available

Westfield City Hall (File photo)

WESTFIELD – Community Development Director Peter J. Miller said residents impacted by COVID-19 may now apply for rental assistance through a new program funded by the Community Development Block Grant CARES Act. Miller said Westfield has set aside $205,000 for the program.

Valley Opportunity Council is doing intake for the program which is intended for people who are behind on rent for at least 30 days because of a loss of income through reduced hours or loss of employment due to COVID-19. He said the city has a goal of helping 80 households with a maximum of $3,000 in rental assistance

The assistance is subject to the CDBG income standard limits of 80 percent of median income based on size of household. For example, the maximum income for a household of four is $68.300. This income level is based on reduced income as opposed to what it was pre-COVID, Miller said.

Miller called it a “rolling program, first come first served until we spend all the money.” He said if there is a demonstrated need for more funding, the city will consider how to meet that need. He said they already have six to eight applications in the first couple of days of the program’s start.

Miller said according to a study by the state in October, Westfield at that time had a likelihood in need of up to $400,000 in rental assistance.

Miller also said the eviction moratorium expired in December, and evictions have begun to be filed in housing court. He said while they haven’t heard of any being executed due to nonpayment, the threat is out there.

“We want to make sure that people continue to stay housed, and landlords continue to be paid so they don’t default on their mortgages,” Miller said.

To apply for the program, residents may call Saevea Benton at the Valley Opportunity Council at 413-534-2466 ext. 550.

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