With her calls for Gov. Charlie Baker to extend the moratorium on evictions having gone unanswered, Attorney General Maura Healey has turned her focus to making sure supports for tenants and landlords are put in place as quickly as possible, and she’s worried some services may be months away.
The statewide temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures lifted on Saturday, though a federal moratorium could still apply to some Massachusetts renters. In allowing the moratorium to expire, Baker announced a $171 million plan to help tenants stay in their homes and landlords pay their mortgages.
Healey’s office, however, is worried that some of those supports, including legal counsel and mediation services, are not in place as Housing Courts begin to hear eviction cases.
“The state’s focus must now be centered around getting the funding and assistance our landlords need to stay afloat and to help tenants stay in their homes. It’s critical that the Baker Administration prioritize the hiring of additional legal counsel and mediators to assist tens of thousands of landlords and tenants in the courts and when applying for rental assistance,” Healey said in a statement.
The Democrat’s office said it does not believe the contracts to increase the availability of legal services and mediation for tenants and landlords have been finalized or signed, and the funding to hire those professionals has not been dispersed.
Healey’s office also said Baker’s announced upgrades to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program that would allow landlords to apply for assistance on behalf of their tenants could take one to two months.
“The Administration must streamline applications so they can actually be accessed and processed as soon as possible. Making these services available has to be a top priority with the cold weather approaching and landlords and tenants already at their breaking points,” Healey said.
The Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development could not immediately be reached on the progress or timeline for implementing the reforms flagged by Healey.
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