Tenants & homeowners short on rent or mortgage payments urged to seek help from Somerville’s Office of Housing Stability – Now, not later
SOMERVILLE, MA – Although both the federal and Somerville eviction moratoriums have been extended, Somerville is urging low- and moderate-income tenants and homeowners struggling to pay their housing costs to seek supports now to avoid later threats to their housing security.
“We are relieved that the CDC extended the federal eviction moratorium, and Somerville’s local eviction moratorium also remains in place, but no one should be waiting to seek help making rent or mortgage payments. Falling behind month-by-month can make it difficult to catch up, and we don’t know how long federal protections will continue beyond the current extension,” said Fred Berman, Deputy Director of the Office of Housing Stability (OHS).
“There are various financial resources that we can help low- and moderate-income tenants and homeowners apply for, and it’s best to contact us at the City’s Office of Housing Stability sooner rather than later,” continued Berman. “We can talk renters and owners through the available options and either directly assist with applying for rental or mortgage assistance, or refer to partnering nonprofits that can help.”
Supports available to residents unable to make rent or mortgage payments can help with overdue payments as well as provide time-limited assistance with upcoming payments. These resources can prevent tenant evictions for non-payment of rent. They can also help landlords who otherwise might struggle to pay their mortgage and other bills without their customary rental income. Under the State’s Eviction Diversion Initiative, many residents who might otherwise face eviction are now being referred directly to rental assistance programs rather than proceeding to trial.
“We are doing everything we can to ensure that Somerville residents don’t lose their housing as a result of this pandemic,” said Somerville Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “We have substantial funding available for struggling renters and homeowners thanks to the American Rescue Plan. We also have an entire Office of Housing Stability and partnering non-profits prepared to assist residents who need rental or mortgage assistance. Landlords and tenants don’t need to be at odds over unpaid rent. We can help you solve this problem.”
Somerville residents in need of assistance are urged to contact OHS at 617-625-6600 x2581 or fill out a referral form at somervillema.gov/ohs. The City has already leveraged more than $2 million in rental assistance during the pandemic from local, state and federal sources.
The current Somerville eviction moratorium was recently renewed through September 15. It prevents eviction orders from being executed. While landlords may file notices to quit and seek court orders for evictions, low- and moderate-income Somerville tenants may not be removed from their homes while this important pandemic protection is in place. Similarly, low- and moderate-income Somerville homeowners who may have defaulted on their mortgage payments may not be ordered to leave their home pursuant to eviction or foreclosure orders.
With the influx of the Delta variant of the coronavirus, and with Middlesex County now considered to be at substantial risk for transmission of the variant, the City’s Board of Health will meet again prior to the September 15 date to consider an extension of Somerville’s general pandemic emergency declaration as well as an extension of the eviction moratorium. The federal eviction moratorium was recently extended through October 3, 2021, for counties with high or substantial COVID-19 transmission, which includes Middlesex County.
“Our mission is to make sure that everybody who needs help and is eligible for assistance gets that assistance,” Berman said. “The amount of arrears should be no obstacle. We understand the application process can be difficult to navigate by yourself, so we’re here to help. Whether you’re sharing a household or you need help in a different language, we’ll make sure you get the assistance you need.”
Somerville residents who receive a “notice of levy” eviction order or who are experiencing a physical eviction should immediately contact 311 (617-666-3311) to be connected to Office of Housing Stability staff (for residential tenants or homeowners), and the Somerville Police Department as necessary, to intervene.
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