“We’re preparing to resist evictions collectively, if they make it our only choice.”
Today, October 17, marks the expiration of the Massachusetts eviction moratorium. According to a report issued by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, an estimated “60,000 Massachusetts renter households fear imminent eviction.” The moratorium was first put into place by Governor Charlie Baker last April and banned all nonessential evictions and foreclosures. Baker had extended it until today over the summer, in an effort to mitigate the catastrophic effects of the coronavirus on housing. Without a new extension on the moratorium, residents who cannot afford their rent are at risk and may find themselves displaced. As Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said, “We need the time to do this right.”
On Wednesday, October 14, the Homes for All Massachusetts coalition and the Massachusetts COVID-19 Response Alliance organized a march to Governor Charlie Baker’s house, demanding that he support and sign the Guaranteed Housing Stability Act. This legislation would prevent a surge of unjust evictions and foreclosures, prevent rent hikes and no fault evictions, and help establish a Housing Stability and Recovery Fund to support small owners. On Thursday, October 15, non-profit City Life/Vida Urbana held a rally that began in front of the Boston Housing Court, followed by a march to the Massachusetts State House. Advocates behind the gathering also called for the passage of the act and called Baker’s own eviction plan “dangerously inadequate.”
“Right now, over 100,000 households across our state are at risk of eviction – and this bill will prevent those evictions and protect public health. But if lawmakers fail to protect us, we’re preparing to resist evictions collectively, if they make it our only choice,” said Steve Meacham, coordinator of organizing at City Life.
Baker’s new plan calls for $171 million to be channeled into aid for tenants and landlords, according to an article by WBUR. Only $65 million of this total will support a program called Residential Assistance for Families in Transition, which many advocates have said is not enough.
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.