- On November 13, 2020
Supporting Residents After the Eviction Moratorium’s Expiration
Throughout the spring, summer and early fall, Massachusetts’ eviction moratorium provided a sense of security for tenants facing financial hardship as a result of the current public health and economic crises. Last month, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker decided to let the moratorium expire, instead allocating $171 million in funding for housing stability protection and urging those in need to apply for state and federal aid for additional support. This decision has created an atmosphere of confusion, fear, and uncertainty among many of our state’s most vulnerable residents. As we face a potential eviction crisis in the coming months, IBA is working with affordable housing advocates and public officials to find ways to support and protect residents in the short and long term.
With winter around the corner, flu season and additional waves of COVID-19 are imminent, and could be exacerbated by increased levels of homelessness and overcrowding in shelters. As a result, it is more urgent than ever to ensure that every resident has access to a safe, sustainable home. These public health concerns, coupled with a food insecurity crisis that has risen more than 100 percent since the beginning of the pandemic, demonstrate the dire circumstances faced by many households across the state. IBA, along with other affordable housing organizations, has pledged to extend the eviction moratorium until at least the end of the year. Moreover, we are working to help struggling tenants, assisting them with filing for rent assistance, unemployment and other forms of aid, helping them combat food insecurity, and checking in to ensure they are both physically and mentally healthy. However, we cannot fully address the needs of our residents without additional support; public officials also need to protect residents by creating additional housing, offering subsidies for landlords, and providing guidance for landlords to engage with tenants to find adaptable solutions that benefit both parties.
While short-term relief will be crucial for many individuals and families, it has become evident that the economic impacts of this pandemic will have long-term consequences that necessitate long-term solutions. The recession brought about by the pandemic has left residents, particularly residents of color, in need of more support than ever, as they struggle to pay rent and also keep up with other living costs, like food and utilities. Since the beginning of the pandemic, IBA’s Resident Services team has been working to help residents overcome these financial burdens, and 96 percent of our residents continue to pay their rent on time. However, a recent report from City Life/Vida Urbana and MIT found that over 300,000 renter households across the state are unable to pay rent and fear eviction, with 42 percent of Black renters and 30 percent of Hispanic renters statewide reporting little to no confidence in paying rent. Given the lasting – and possibly escalating – economic crisis, residents’ financial burdens will continue to grow, unless elected officials intervene to provide resources and funds to those in need.
The state’s housing crisis is not a new phenomenon, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated pre-existing issues. For instance, The Boston Foundation’s “Greater Boston Housing Report Card” found in 2019 that Boston not only continues to be one of the most expensive cities in the United States, but also does not have enough residential units to house its rapidly growing population. As a result, it’s not enough to simply provide short-term relief for residents who are struggling due to the pandemic – we must also continue advocating for the development of more affordable units across the Commonwealth.
With an eviction crisis looming, it is more critical than ever that affordable housing organizations and public officials work together to support low-income residents and make lasting changes to the Commonwealth’s housing landscape. IBA recently signed Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Housing Stability Pledge, agreeing to abide by the CDC’s eviction moratorium, which runs through the end of 2020, and we will continue working tirelessly to support our residents during these troubling times and beyond.
We are proud to be working to develop housing opportunities for low-income households in Boston. For more information on how you can support IBA, please visit our page: http://www.ibaboston.org/donat......