Gov. Baker extends eviction freeze

from Banker & Tradesman

TUESDAY, JULY 21—Amid rising concern that a “tsunami” of evictions would strike Massachusetts renters on Aug. 18 and proposed solutions would significantly harm landlords and lenders, Gov. Charlie Baker announced he is extending the state’s eviction moratorium through Oct. 17The law that created the current freeze, which also covers residential mortgages, includes a provision that allows Baker to extend it in 90-day increments. The moratorium was originally set to expire Aug. 18. 

Reaching for the emergency brake

from CHAPA Housing Briefs

THURSDAY, JULY 9—Concerns continue to increase about the threat of a “tsunami of evictions” this fall, when federal and state moratoriums may end. Households are also facing an end to expanded unemployment benefits for those workers who lost their job due to COVID-19. It's estimated that 120,000 households in Massachusetts are in danger of being unable to keep up with rent and mortgage payments. In response to these concerns, state, housing providers, local communities, and advocates are increasing efforts to prevent evictions and provide emergency rental assistance.

New state Rental Assistance Fund

by New England Cable News

WEDNESDAY, JULY 1—Applications open Wednesday for a new $20 million fund set up by the state to help people who are behind on their rent or mortgage payments. The new funding will serve twice as many households as the traditional Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) by expanding the eligibility to families who would otherwise not qualify.

About that security deposit refund…

delayed by virus emergency, money now on the way

TUESDAY, JUNE 30—Earlier this year the Cambridge Housing Authority (CHA) decided that managing security deposit accounts for thousands of tenants was not worth the trouble. On Jan 22 the CHA Board of Commissioners voted to refund security deposits to tenants of its managed properties. CHA staff planned to get all the refunds out by March 31. But then the coronavirus came along.

Local backing for tenant protections

TUESDAY, JUNE 30—The Cambridge City Council voted a policy order last night in support of a broad tenant protection bill filed by Reps Mike Connolly and Nika Elugardo. The vote was 8-1 in favor. This was one of two pro-rent control bills reported out of committee favorably two weeks ago. A yes vote had been urged by an unusual coalition of four housing-oriented local organizations, including ACT.

Preparing for an eviction wave

by Brittany Hutson, Shelterforce

THURSDAY, JUNE 25—Though many advocates are working on extensions, eviction moratoriums across the country are drawing closer to an end, though extreme levels of unemployment continue. While the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s moratorium on single-family home foreclosures and evictions from properties it owns has been extended to at least Aug. 31, the broader CARES Act moratorium on eviction filings for subsidized properties and those with federally-backed mortgages still expires on July 25, and the patchwork of state and local moratoriums varies widely in length and coverage.

ACT Office will reopen next week

but access is limited until further notice

THURSDAY, JUNE 4—ACT’s Executive Officers have decided to reopen the office at 135 Prospect street. In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the office has been shut down since March 19. However at first the office will operate with certain restrictions.

Although the office will try to maintain its four-day schedule, there will be only one staff volunteer present at any one time. We cannot allow visitors, so people seeking assistance will not be able to come in to speak with ACT volunteers. This will be the rule until further notice.

COVID tests for CHA seniors

Fire Dept. will go door-to-door

TUESDAY, MAY 19—see update at the end of this article

SATURDAY, MAY 16— Beginning next week, residents of Cambridge Housing Authority elder-and-disabled properties will be offered a free test for COVID-19. This is a City-sponsored initiative. The Housing Authority has welcomed it, but the work will be done by City personnel. The Cambridge Fire Dept. will go door to door and will give the test to any resident who wants one. The test is voluntary—no one will be required to take it. 

Evictions, foreclosures paused

FRIDAY APRIL 24—It’s the law: for the time being, evictions and foreclosures are on hold in Massachusetts. The Legislature passed the emergency bill on Friday, and Governor Baker signed it on Monday the 20th. Rents and mortgage installments will still be due, but no late penalties are allowed when inability to pay is due to a pandemic-related hardship. But tenants need to let their landlords know why they can’t pay on time. The Housing Authority will let them do this by telephone or e-mail. Others may copy and send this simple form.

Stimulus cash won't raise the rent

Emergency payments are temporary—so they don't count as income

FRIDAY, APRIL 17—James R. Grow, National Housing Law Project (NHLP), writes: "With stimulus payments beginning to flow, HUD tenants will be undergoing interim recertifications." In general, HUD has advised housing authorities and managers to exclude Federal COVID emergency payments in determining tenant income.

Here is how NHLP interprets the HUD guidance: