Baker hoping for post-pandemic housing jolt

One of the things Gov. Charlie Baker hopes Massachusetts is able to do when the state eventually emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic is “put a lot of shovels in the ground all over the commonwealth to create a lot of the housing capacity that we so desperately need,” he said Wednesday as he announced $20 million in government housing supports.

Visiting Father Bill’s and Mainspring in Quincy, Baker also said the latest round of federal funding included about $475 million in rental assistance money that the state will “be baking into our existing eviction diversion programming, which should mean that we’ll continue to be able to help people stay home, despite the fact that we’re still going to have to work our way through the end of this pandemic and out of it and into a recovery.”

The Baker administration rolled out its eviction diversion initiative after allowing a state-level eviction and foreclosure moratorium to lapse in October. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently extended a federal moratorium through June 30.

As families and individuals cope with the economic strain of the COVID-19 crisis, the pandemic has also brought new challenges for shelter operators. To comply with COVID-19 restrictions and provide a safe facility for residents, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said Father Bill’s “had to reduce the capacity by 50 percent as well as meet the needs for shelter requests in this community and across the state.”

Polito said construction of new affordable housing nearby could allow some residents to move into those units, freeing up more capacity in the shelter system.

(Copyright (c) 2021 State House News Service.