As Massachusetts’s eviction moratorium is set to end in less than one month, state lawmakers are continuing to push for an extension.
Massachusetts representatives Michael L. Connolly and Kevin G. Honan jointly filed a bill earlier this year to extend the state’s current eviction moratorium — which took effect in April — up to one year after Massachusetts’s COVID-19 emergency declaration expires. The bill comes as public health experts warn of a possible “second wave” of coronavirus infections.
Massachusetts renters are currently protected by a moratorium in effect through at least October 17. Last week, a federal judge said he would likely rule against landlords who sought to challenge the moratorium.
Connolly said a strong moratorium is important in part because it will help combat the spread of the coronavirus.
“Housing stability is really fundamental both to our efforts to try to stop the spread of COVID-19 and as a matter of basic justice considering that housing really should be a human right,” he said.
The Centers for Disease Control recently imposed a nationwide moratorium through December 31. Those guidelines are not relevant to Massachusetts, however, because the “state moratorium is stronger than the CDC order,” according to Connolly.
Patricia D. Jehlen, one of the bill’s major supporters in the State Senate, said evictions disproportionately affect communities of color.
“We've learned that evictions are highest in those areas with many Black and brown residents,” she said.
In addition to extending the eviction moratorium for another year, the bill would also create a state relief fund that would offer aid to property owners and landlords with 15 or fewer units. The bill does not provide the exact details or size of the fund.
Currently, the state-funded Rental Assistance for Families in Transition program provides short-term aid to tenants who are at risk of displacement. The COVID-19 Housing Stability Act “would create an additional housing stability fund with a specific goal of looking to fill in the gaps that are currently not being addressed by [these] existing programs,” according to Connolly.
—Staff writer Simon J. Levien can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @simonjlevien.
—Staff writer Austin W. Li can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @austinwli.