Moratorium otherwise set to expire April 30;
Board to take up matter at Thursday, April 21, meeting
SOMERVILLE, MA – The City of Somerville is seeking to extend its eviction moratorium by two months and ultimately sunset the moratorium on June 30, 2022. Otherwise set to expire on April 30, the proposed extension and sunset date will be considered by the Somerville Board of Health at its Thursday, April 21, meeting. The Somerville eviction moratorium is the last remaining municipal eviction moratorium in the Commonwealth.
A range of alternative supports are available for qualifying households. Any Somerville residents facing eviction or housing instability are urged to contact the City’s Office of Housing Stability.
The moratorium is one of a range of tools Somerville has deployed to support housing stability during the pandemic. Mayor Katjana Ballantyne also recently announced new municipal housing assistance programs including flex funds and housing vouchers launching soon, and since March 2020, the City has substantially increased housing staff and services to connect residents to federal, state, and local housing aid.
Since March 2020, Somerville tenants and homeowners have received $3,999,873 in rental assistance through Office of Housing Stability (OHS) assistance (approximately $8,800/household). Without this assistance, OHS reports almost all of these households would have been vulnerable to eviction. In total, OHS has provided services to 3,283 households since the start of the pandemic. These included a range of services with the bulk being rental assistance, housing search, and eviction prevention.
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 the nonprofit Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) for help.
Landlords can reach out too on behalf of tenants rather than filing to evict. The City alongside advocates, partner organizations, and elected officials also recently brokered commitments from large Somerville landlords to cooperate with OHS to prevent evictions for nonpayment rather than moving first to evict.
How to Contact the Somerville Office of Housing Stability for Assistance
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 Somerville Homeless Coalition and the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) are also providing similar assistance. CAAS can be reached at 617-623-7370 or caasomerville.org/need-help. The Somerville Homeless Coalition can be reached at 617-623-6111, firstname.lastname@example.org, or somervillehomelesscoalition.org/programs.
“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.”
How the Somerville Eviction Moratorium Works
The Somerville eviction moratorium prevents 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.
While the eviction moratorium remains in effect, 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.