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.

On July 6, WinnCompanies, which manages more than 6,500 apartments across the state, extended its ban on evictions through the end of 2020. As the state considers whether to extend the statewide eviction moratorium that ends on August 18, Winn announced that it will not start eviction cases against tenants who fall behind on rent because of virus-related financial hardships. Instead, Winn will help tenants access relief programs that may be available, such as state and local emergency rental assistance programs, and work out deferred payment plans.

UPDATE FRIDAY, July 10—The Boston Housing Authority will extend its moratorium on "non-essential" evictions through January 1, 2021. BHA will still prosecute evictions related to criminal activity or to protect the health and safety of other  residents.

Cities and towns are also providing local funds to support residents who have fallen behind on housing payments because of COVID-19. According to a recent report, 48 communities had approved emergency rental assistance programs and pledged over $20 million for this assistance as of May 2020.

Advocates are also supporting legislation to create a statewide pilot program to provide a right to counsel for low-income residents facing eviction because of COVID-19. 

CHAPA is Citizens Housing And Planning Association, a broad umbrella organization that includes housing authorities, real estate developers, and tenant advocates; CHAPA lobbies the legislature in Massachusetts. See the CHAPA link on this site.