Students in the Phillips Brooks House Association phoned Massachusetts state representatives at a Tuesday event held by the group in support of a Covid-19 housing equity bill making its way through the state legislature.
Student volunteers in attendance were members of PBHA’s Housing Opportunities Program, an undergraduate group focused on combating homelessness in the Greater Boston area. The bill intends to extend eviction and foreclosure prevention measures instituted by the state during the pandemic.
More than 100,000 Mass. households struggled to pay their mortgages in September 2020 due to recent unemployment, according to estimates from the Boston-based Metropolitan Area Planning Council. Most of the legislation pausing evictions and foreclosures during the pandemic is coming to an end early this year, and some policies have already expired.
HOP kicked off the phone banking event Tuesday to raise awareness about ongoing housing issues and recruit more volunteers, according to the program’s Director of Advocacy Sophie S. Goodman ’25.
“It really aligns with a lot of our mission in terms of eviction prevention, keeping people in housing,” Goodman said. “The measures in this bill are really important, especially at this time.”
“One thing that we, as a group, found really appealing about the bill is measures to ensure that landlords work with tenants to find rental assistance before giving an eviction notice,” she added.
The bill aims to support both homeowners and renters and increase the accessibility of rental assistance, including for low-income individuals and people of color.
Goodman said accessibility remains an issue with the current housing assistance programs available.
“Something that we’ve discussed is that there’s assistance out there, but a lot of it is difficult to access,” she said.
Goodman also said she believes Tuesday’s event serves as a reminder that housing instability wrought by the pandemic persists.
“Especially in places like Harvard, it’s almost like we’re feeling like, ‘Oh, the pandemic’s a little bit over,’ and we’re almost forgetting how much of an impact it’s still having on people,” she said.
— Staff writer Edona Cosovic can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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