MAPC releases town-by-town data on housing assistance needed due to COVID-19 financial crisis

With unemployment at an all-time high, nearly every city and town will see a significant need for housing aid once CARES Act, eviction moratorium expire

For immediate release: Tuesday, June 23, 2020

BOSTON – A regional planning agency in Boston has released municipal-level estimates of the housing assistance that may be needed in Massachusetts due to COVID-19, and it paints a dire picture of how much financial help may be required to keep thousands of Massachusetts residents housed once the state eviction moratorium and federal CARES Act benefits expire later this summer.

A temporary boost of $600 per week in unemployment benefits will expire on July 30, and a statewide eviction moratorium is set to end on August 18. Once those stop-gap measures end, research by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) shows that nearly every city and town in Massachusetts will be facing a great need for housing assistance come late summer.

“Almost no community will be exempt from a substantial need for housing assistance once CARES Act supplements and the eviction moratorium expire,” said Sarah Philbrick, MAPC Socioeconomic Analyst II and a lead author of the research. “Considering this data doesn’t include undocumented workers or self-employed workers who have filed, it’s likely these estimates underestimate need, although that also depends on how many workers return to work over the next few months. Cities and towns would do well to start planning for the impacts now, or they may see large numbers of vulnerable residents displaced by evictions or foreclosure.”

A map of the estimated housing need, broken down by municipality, is available here:

The full data download can be found here.

This latest analysis is the newest in a series of MAPC reports on the statewide housing insecurity implications of widespread layoffs. Past reports looked at the gap between unemployment assistance and projected housing need in the early weeks of the pandemic, followed by a deeper dive into the demographics of impacted households and large-scale impacts of unemployment at the industry level. Read those reports here and here.

Estimates of needed housing assistance are determined by four main factors: population of each city of town, its unemployment rate, its cost of housing, and pre-COVID occupations and wages. The three largest cities in the state – Boston, Worcester and Springfield – have some of the largest total need of housing assistance; Quincy, Lynn and Lawrence also find themselves near the top of the list due to a combination of large populations, high to moderate housing costs, and high unemployment rates. Some of the state’s smallest communities, like Gosnold, Petersham and Phillipston, have very high rates of unemployment compared to their population, while other communities that have extremely high housing costs – such as Wellesley, Weston, Dover and Sherborn – rank among the highest average dollar amount needed in assistance per household.

“As the state slowly begins to reopen, some parts of the economy may rebound and there could be a drop in unemployment need,” said Philbrick. “Nevertheless, we hope our research is helpful as cities and towns try to get their arms around the extent of the potential housing and financial insecurity facing their residents in the months ahead, and as they plan for recovery and neighborhood stability.”

MAPC will continue to make regular updates to their ongoing analyses of the impacts COVID-19 on the region’s housing and economy.

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Amanda Linehan
Communications Director
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
617-388-1556 (cell phone)