Preparing for an eviction wave

by Brittany Hutson, Shelterforce

THURSDAY, JUNE 25, 2020—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, 2020—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, 2020—see update at the end of this article

SATURDAY, MAY 16, 2020— 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, 2020—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, 2020—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:

Emergency grants available

Two local funds for emergency relief

SATURDAY, APRIL 11, 2020 (update)— Beginning Monday, April 13, the City of Cambridge is taking Applications for Mayor's Disaster Relief Fund for COVID-19. see details below

MONDAY, APRIL 6, 2020—If you are a Cambridge resident, and experiencing a financial crisis, you may now apply for a one-time grant from the newly-established Cambridge COVID-19 Emergency Fund. The amount, to be based on need, will range between $200 and $1,000. Applications are available now and grants will be provided on a rolling basis, with the first allocations to be made as soon as possible. Click here for an application.

Staying connected

Phone and internet providers pledge leniency

SUNDAY, APRIL 5, 2020—Companies serving Massachusetts have signed a pledge to maintain phone and internet service to residents and small businesses who have trouble paying their bills during the current crisis. The pledge was circulated by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) as part of its Keep Americans Connected Initiative.

Cities order a halt to evictions, setting strict limits to landlord entry

SATURDAY, APRIL 4, 2020—Yesterday the City of Cambridge declared a moratorium on evictions. The temporary emergency order also  forbids “property owners and their agents” from any “non-essential entry” into tenants’ dwellings. The Cambridge order mirrors an order signed a week earlier by Somerville Mayor Curtatone. Other cities seem likely to follow Somerville’s lead.

Mass. House of Representatives : freeze evictions and foreclosures

from Rep. Mike Connolly’s office (edited)

FRIDAY, APRIL 3, 2020 — The Mass. House of Representatives has voted to set a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures. The legislation is based on a bill filed on March 13 by Rep. Mike Connolly and Housing Committee Co-Chair Kevin Honan. It would stop most residential and commercial evictions until thirty days after the COVID-19 State of Emergency ends. 

Courts extend access restrictions

from Boston Bar Association

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 1, 2020—SJC Issues Order Restricting Court Appearances to Emergency Matters Until May 4

In light of the ongoing and urgent public health concerns regarding the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Supreme Judicial Court today issued an Order that continues to restrict the number of people coming to Massachusetts state courthouses.