Way Finders Service Updates in Response to COVID-19

Updated June 30th, 2020

Way Finders and our subsidiaries, Common Capital, and MBL are working remotely until further notice. 

At present, there are no in-person RAFT intakes, housing/financial education/first-time homebuyer workshops, or any other group or individual meetings.

We will update this page regularly, including our reinstatement of in-person services and appointments, as we receive additional guidance from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Please see below for specific programmatic details and contact information.

Massachusetts Eviction Moratorium

Statewide moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency affecting all tenants, homeowners of 1-4 family owner occupied homes, and small businesses. On April 20, 2020 Massachusetts passed an emergency law to stop evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 state of emergency. 

learn more

Housing Consumer Education Center

Way Finders serves at the regional Housing Consumer Education Center (HCEC) for Hamdpen and Hampshire counties. If your household resides outside of these counties, find your regional HCEC here. 

  • RAFT and other fund assessments including a New Assistance Fund for Springfield Residents (see details below) are being conducted remotely.Program guidelines and requirements are flexible for individuals and families experiencing a COVID-19 related housing crisis. Even if you have been denied in the past or if you have used your maximum RAFT benefit in the past 12 months, you may be eligible for new programs.
    • Assessments for all funding begin by completing a form online at www.wayfinders.org/hcec-assessment. Assessments can also be completed over the phone with a Way Finders staff member at 413-233-1600.
      • A Way Finders staff member will follow up on completed assessments within 3-5 business days to discuss your options for submitting documentation
      • Please note that there may be a delay in our response time due to the high volume of assessments we’re receiving. We have added staffing capacity to address the increased need. Please do not submit more than one assessment form. Thank you for your patience.
    • As of June 11th, The City of Springfield has made available $2 million in grant funding for renters and homeowners who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant program will pay up to three months’ rent, mortgage, and utility charges for low to moderate income Springfield residents whose income has been adversely impacted by the pandemic public health orders. Learn more.

Shelter Intakes

Way Finders will continue to accept new shelter placements from the Department of Housing and Community Development, and all intakes will be processed as usual.
 

Stabilization Services

Stabilization Staff is operating remotely via phone, email and/or text.

Employment Support Services

Employment Support Services staff members are operating remotely via phone, email and/or text.
 

Fair Housing/Housing Rights Counseling

If you have a question about your rights and responsibilities as a tenant or landlord in these uncertain times, please leave a message for us at 413-233-1609 and we'll get back to you.  Please be sure to include your name and the best number at which to contact you. 

Rental Voucher or Housing Subsidy Programs

If you are a Rental Assistance Client, please contact:

If you are a Rental Assistance Landlord, please contact:

Landlords, please note, all rent payments will be made as scheduled during the closure period. 
 

General Information

  • Way Finders is dedicated to ensuring that all subsidy and utility payments to rental property owners and tenants will continue to be made as scheduled.
  • We will place a temporary hold on any non-emergency terminations that have been issued.
  • All non-emergency appeals and hearings will be placed on hold and rescheduled at a later date.
  • Where possible and latitude permits, Way Finders will work to provide such discretions in regards to deadlines and lease-up time. 

If you need to report an Interim change request

If you are a Way Finder Rental Assistance Voucher participant and would like to report a loss or change in income, a new household member, removal of a household member, or a change to unreimbursed medical and/or child care expenses, please complete this Interim Recertification Request.

  • We anticipate an increase in requests for interim recertifications, due to the number of our participants who may see a decrease in hours or termination of employment. We will also prioritize recertifications for decreases in family compositions. We will prioritize these activities in order to ensure that families remain stably housed. Documents can be provided through email, text, fax, and by mail. For tenants without access to technology, phone appointments will be scheduled on a limited basis to review mailed documents.

Selections

  • We will immediately suspend all new voucher selection activity until further notice. Selections that were already in process will continue and applicants will receive more information via email.
    • New Lease up: We will request that tenants provide documents through email, text, fax, and by mail. For tenants without access to technology, phone appointments will be scheduled on a limited basis to review mailed documents.
  • Way Finders will prioritize working with participants to process documents for new lease-ups. 

Way Finders' Managed Properties

Property Management has been communicating directly with each tenant. Staff will be available to tenants and will be utilizing phone, e-mail and text messages in order to minimize in person contact.
 

Evictions and Court Actions

  • Way Finders is temporarily suspending all non-emergency evictions. 
    • Per Housing Court Standing Order 2-20, all non-emergency pending court cases will be continued beyond April 21, 2020. 
  • Way Finders will temporarily suspend levies, unless it is an emergency, on executions for physical evictions. This means that no physical evictions are currently taking place, except in emergency situations.
  • We will be cancelling all outstanding notices to quit for non-payment of rent. 
  • Action on For Cause Notices to Quit are being temporarily suspended, but may be resumed, once appropriate, on a case-by-case basis.
     

Recertifications

Property Management is continuing to process recertifications and will be communicating with tenants directly to coordinate any accommodations that need to be made in order to minimize person-to-person contact. Way Finders will be making adjustments to its policies, where possible, to be responsive to any difficulties individuals may have in obtaining necessary verifications and paperwork.

Homeownership and Financial Education

To contact the Homeownership and Financial Education department please email:
homeownership@wayfinders.org

First-time Homebuyer Courses and Counseling

  • Way Finders is encouraging people who are interested in completing their first-time homebuyer requirements to take our online First-time Homebuyer Course. All in-person workshops are temporarily on hold during this time. 
  • Homeownership Counselors are operating remotely via phone, email, and/or text

Credit Success/Financial Education Counseling

  • Financial Counselors are operating remotely via phone, email, and/or text.
  • Please email homeownership@wayfindersma.org for more information regarding how to setup a counseling appointment.

Foreclosure Prevention

We understand that these times are uncertain. At this time, you or a loved one may be worried about how you will pay your mortgage. 
 
The best advice we can give is for you to contact your servicer before falling behind on your mortgage. Your servicer may be able to temporarily reduce your payments, or offer you a forbearance. If you have already fallen behind, you should still contact your servicer to see what options you may have to move forward.
 
If you are feeling overwhelmed or need help understanding your options, Way Finders may be able to help. For more information please contact us at 413-233-1621 or homeownership@wayfindersma.org.
 
Additionally, please refer to the USA Today article that talks about mortgage forbearance and how some lenders are responding to the COVID-19 mortgage crisis.

We appreciate your understanding about this temporary closure and apologize for any inconvenience it may cause. Please continue to check this website for new updates over the next several weeks. 

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