Haverhill Continues COVID-19 Rental Assistance, Expects Vaccine Through Regular Channels

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini. (WHAV News file photograph.)

The coronavirus has caused considerable financial hardship for a number of Haverhill residents with many fearful they could be evicted from their homes for not being able to pay their rent.

Haverhill Mayor James J. Fiorentini told city councilors this week the city has been able to help nearly 200 families so far and expect to keep the program going until at least the end of the year. Program Coordinator Aubrie Campbell, who works in the city’s Community Development Department, says families are grateful.

“We are running an emergency rental assistance program. We’ve been running since July. We’ve assisted 190 families and I can’t tell you how appreciative are of this program. I get so many people that tell me I have no idea how much this helped them. That they’re going to be able to stay in their apartment through the holidays and not have to worry about finding another place to live,” she said.

Campbell said the city has spent $500,000 helping people pay rent so far. Money comes from a variety of sources including from a variety of sources, including the federal Cares Act, federal Community Development Block Grants and federal HOME funds to address affordable housing needs.

As WHAV first reported earlier, Haverhill City Hall is reverting back to business by appointment only. Fiorentini explained the rationale behind the change.

“We had, unfortunately, 65 new cases today, which is our highest number ever. So, when you meet people that say the increased numbers don’t really matter, yes, they do matter because there is a gap. In order to meet this, we’ve placed City Hall to appointment only. We need to protect our public employees,” he explained.

The mayor asked the public to take care of any necessary business online or by calling 311.

He also stressed the need for “personal responsibility” in wearing masks and social distancing over the next few months until a vaccine is available which he believes will be fairly soon.

“We were told today that the vaccine was going to be distributed according to the usual channels for flu vaccines. Now that means it is going to go to CVS and Walgreens which are already under government contract to distribute to nursing homes and health care providers. Most people in Haverhill will be vaccinated in the spring. They’re going to be vaccinated at CVS, Walgreens or at their local family doctors,” Fiorentini said.

The mayor said he understands first priorities will be first responders and nursing home residents.

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