By Bob Katzen
State Representatives Mike Connolly (D-Cambridge) and Kevin Honan (D-Boston) and Sen. Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville) filed bills last week that would extend the current moratorium on evictions and foreclosures for failure to pay until one year after Governor Baker lifts the COVID-19 state of emergency. The proposals also freezes rents for the same period of time and creates a fund to aid those unable to pay housing costs due to the pandemic. The current moratorium ends on August 18 and supporters say that without the extension, there could be tens of thousands of tenants evicted.
Sen. Jehlen said an estimated 125,000 families are expected to be at risk and argued the extension of the moratorium will save lives. “The scale of the problem is enormous,” said Jehlen. “The governor is allocating $20 million in federal funds for housing stability, which would not help even half of the 20,000 evictions the housing court expects to be filed when the moratorium ends. Just before it expires, over a million Massachusetts families will lose $600 per week in federal unemployment benefits and will have trouble paying rent.”
“While this Legislature passed the nation’s strongest eviction and foreclosure moratorium back in April, we know that many families are still struggling to pay their rents and mortgages,” said Honan. “A mass number of evictions in August when the moratorium ends will create not just a housing emergency, but a serious public health risk. We must do everything we can to promote housing stability while we continue ride out this first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“If we fail to act now, we will face a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures,” said Connolly. “The consequences will likely be new surges of infection, increased displacement, further destruction of neighborhoods and increased numbers of people experiencing homelessness. This unprecedented crisis requires strong action to protect vulnerable residents, safeguard public health, and set the stage for a strong and equitable economic recovery.”