Massachusetts ban on pandemic evictions, foreclosures ending

BOSTON (AP) — The state’s ban on evictions and foreclosures imposed during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic expires on Saturday, leaving many worrying about their housing security.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker this week unveiled a $171 million initiative he said will help tenants and landlords cope. Baker said the goal is to keep tenants in their homes and also ease the ongoing expenses of landlords.

The bulk of the spending — about $100 million — will go to expand the capacity of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program to provide relief to renters and landlords struggling because of the pandemic.

Housing advocates said Baker’s plan doesn’t go far enough. They’re pressing the Republican governor and state lawmakers to back a more comprehensive eviction prevention measure.

The bill would ensure tenants cannot be evicted because of missed rent if nonpayment was because of COVID-19. It would also prevent “no fault” evictions and rent increases for 12 months following the state of emergency.

Among those calling on Baker to extend the moratorium is Democratic U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley.

“Ending the moratorium now would put our most vulnerable families in harm’s way,” Pressley said in a written statement Thursday. “With a stroke of a pen, Governor Baker could prevent the looming eviction tsunami.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has also announced a “housing stability pledge” that he said aims to prevent evictions once a statewide moratorium ends.

The pledge asks landlords to honor the federal eviction moratorium; create payment plans for struggling tenants; help connect tenants with resources; and work with tenants with housing vouchers.

When the state moratorium ends, a moratorium established by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will take effect.

The CDC moratorium will prevent evictions through December for non-payment for qualified tenants who submit a written declaration to their landlord. Protection is limited to households who meet certain income and vulnerability criteria.

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