Somerville Board of Health to Review Proposed Extension at September 9 Meeting
SOMERVILLE, MA – The City of Somerville is seeking to extend its eviction moratorium through November 30, announced Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone today.
With the current moratorium otherwise set to expire on September 15, the Somerville Board of Health will consider the City’s extension proposal at its September 9 meeting. The administration’s request comes as COVID-19 cases rise and amid President Joseph R. Biden’s call for states and cities to enact local eviction moratoria after a Supreme Court ruling ended the federal moratorium.
“We are still in a health crisis and this is one important way we can keep our most vulnerable safe,” said Mayor Curtatone. “We also understand that while we use this tool to protect the health of our residents, we must also minimize financial impacts to our property owners, some of whom are also struggling. That’s why our staff are working furiously to assist both tenants and homeowners in accessing housing assistance. Those funds can make landlords whole while keeping people safe in their homes as COVID-19 surges.”
Over the course of the pandemic, the City’s Office of Housing Stability has substantially increased capacity to help residents more quickly and successfully access supports. The office is currently helping to file an average of 60 housing assistance applications per month. The Somerville Homeless Coalition and the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) are also providing similar assistance, bringing the monthly total number of households seeking support in Somerville significantly higher.
Staff have noted a much higher success rate for residents who get professional support in completing assistance applications versus those who attempt the process on their own. Somerville residents unable to pay their rent or housing mortgage are therefore urged to contact the City’s Office of Housing Stability (OHS) or CAAS for help. Landlords can reach out too on behalf of tenants rather than filing to evict.
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. CAAS can be reached at 617-623-7370 or caasomerville.org/need-help.
“It’s important to seek help as soon as possible, even if the moratorium is extended,” said Fred Berman, Deputy Director of the Office of Housing Stability. “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.”
The Somerville eviction moratorium prevents the physical removal of tenants from their homes. While landlords may file notices to quit and seek court orders for evictions, Somerville tenants may not be removed from their homes while this pandemic protection is in place.
Low- and moderate-income homeowners who are behind on their mortgages may also be eligible for payment of their mortgage arrears. Landlords and homeowners may also be eligible for forbearance, which is a pause or reduction in mortgage payments. In addition to existing mortgage assistance resources, the State of Massachusetts recently received approximately $178 million to develop a new Mortgage Assistance Program. Guidelines are being developed by the state in accordance with U.S. Treasury Guidance. This new program should be up and running soon.
Somerville residents who receive a “notice of levy” (a date and time when they will be removed from their homes by a constable or deputy sheriff) 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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