BOSTON (WWLP) – Housing costs in Massachusetts are only continuing to increase and the state legislature is looking for ways to help residents in need of rental assistance.

A report released by The Boston Foundation found that many people who are eligible for rental assistance are not receiving those benefits.

In Massachusetts, less than half of households who fit the criteria to receive rental aid do so, partly due to a lack of funding. This forces households to spend too much on rent or turn to the State’s emergency shelter system, costing the state hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

The report, “A Right to Rental Assistance in Massachusetts,” believes that the state needs to expand the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, but it comes with a hefty price tag.

Opening up access to all eligible households would cost the state about $3.2 billion dollars per year.

“We say that about one in four, one in five households who would qualify for a rental voucher on the basis of their income currently has no access because we just don’t have, we don’t fund the voucher program at a robust enough level,” said Soni Gupta from The Boston Foundation.

Currently, the state spends about $150 million dollars on the voucher program, which covers only about 9,000 vouchers. Most people who are eligible for assistance are “locked out”.

The report also found that 585,000 Massachusetts households qualify for a range of assistance, like section 8 vouchers or state and federal housing, but only about 250,000 receive any sort of housing benefits.

The report believes that opening up a universal voucher program would potentially save the state money in the long term in such areas like homelessness and healthcare.