Section 8

Rental Assistance Programs

The purpose of rental assistance is to help low-income households secure decent rental housing by providing assistance that fills the gap between the family’s ability to pay and total housing costs.

In most programs, participating households must find housing that meets program requirements on the private rental market. Assisted units are regularly inspected to insure that they meet program standards for safety. Written agreements are signed between the owner, tenant and agency outlining their respective rights and responsibilities. Program participants pay a share of the rent based on their household income, and BHDC pays the rental assistance amount directly to the landlord each month.

Those selected for the program receive counseling on program requirements, tenant rights and responsibilities, fair housing, housing search and negotiating with landlords. Landlords are provided with detailed information about the program and receive monthly checks directly from the agency. Housing counselors assist both tenant and landlord throughout program participation.

Participants may choose housing anywhere in Berkshire County and lease it through BHDC. They are also able to select housing anywhere in the state through a network of regional agencies that contract with the state Department of Housing and Community Development. Out-of-state transfers can also be arranged under some programs.

Section 8 Housing

Berkshire Housing uses Assistance Connect as a portal for document and forms to be submitted securely and directly to your online agency account. Click on the Assistance Connect link to get to your account or register for a new account.  Here you can submit forms and check your status.

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Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)

The Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development provides funds for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program. MRVP offers both tenant-based and unit-based rental assistance. The tenant-based voucher, known as Mobile, is assigned to the participant and is valid for any housing unit that meets program standards. At the current time, the waiting list for MRVP is closed, and BHDC cannot re-issue vouchers when someone leaves the program. Unit-based rental assistance is assigned to a specific housing unit or development. The owner rents these units to a program-eligible tenant, and those tenants who move lose the rental assistance.

Under MRVP, a fixed amount of rental assistance is paid, based on the participating family’s income, household size and geography. The participant pays the difference between the value of the voucher and the actual rent charged by the landlord. The tenant cannot pay more than 40% of their income for rent.

Supporting Neighborhood Opportunity in Massachusetts ("SNO Mass")

The SNO Mass program supports Housing Choice Voucher families with children to move to communities with high-quality schools, parks and open space, and healthy, safe environments. SNO Mass provides many benefits and supports to participants who move to these high-opportunity communities, as well as benefits for property owners who rent apartments in these communities to SNO Mass participants.

By entering an address into this search tool, you can see which neighborhoods have been designated as SNO Mass Opportunity Areas.

Project Based Section 8 Rental Assistance

Some Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are used to provide long-term, “project-based” affordable housing. The rental assistance is tied to a specific unit for the term of a Housing Assistance Payments contract. This assistance can be used for newly constructed, rehabilitated, or existing units and is often used with other affordable housing development programs to help ensure that the housing produced is available to very low-income households. Some is used for projects designed to serve those with special needs. There is a separate waiting list for each project that has project-based rental assistance, and interested tenants apply through BHDC. At this time, the waiting list for project-based assistance is temporarily closed. Watch this space for further information.

Rental Assistance for Special Populations

BHDC manages a variety of rental assistance programs targeted to the specific needs of certain populations, including survivors of domestic violence, families facing possible separation from their children due to a lack of adequate housing, families, persons with mental health and/or physical disabilities, and persons in recovery from substance abuse, homeless veterans with disabilities and/or psychiatric and/or substance abuse disorders. Access is generally closed referral from specific supportive service programs and agencies.

Shelter Plus Care

This is a closed referral system through the Institute for Health and Recovery.

A federally funded program, this project based subsidy provides rental assistance for disabled very low-income families and individuals recovering from addiction. Eight apartments are available at 184-186 Bradford St. and 206 Francis Ave., Pittsfield, MA. Clients receiving assistance through the Shelter Plus Care program pay 30% of their monthly income as their share of the rent. The remaining portion of the rent is paid directly to the landlord in the form of a housing assistance payment on or about the first of every month. All units must pass an inspection and be in compliance with applicable lead paint laws.