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Help pass "An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during the COVID-19 Emergency & Recovery" (H.5018 / S.2918) to prevent tens of thousands of evictions in the fall.

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Sign on letter

July 16, 2020

The Honorable Governor Charles Baker
The Honorable Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
The Honorable Senate President Karen Spilka
Members of the Massachusetts Legislature

Governor Baker, Speaker DeLeo, President Spilka, and members of the Legislature:

We urge you to pass An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery [H.5018 / S.2918].

The coronavirus pandemic is devastating our communities, and it is taking a disproportionate toll on the most marginalized among us including low-income tenants, elders, immigrants, front line workers, and Black and Brown renters and homeowners. COVID-19 is deepening racial disparities in health and exacerbating inequities across the board. Over 40 million people nationwide are unemployed and the public health catastrophe continues.

Massachusetts already had a housing and displacement crisis before COVID-19, and the pandemic has made things far worse. Up to 20,000 eviction cases are expected immediately after the current moratorium ends (possibly as soon as August 18), according to landlord advocates and estimates from the state’s Housing Court system.

If we fail to take decisive action, a massive wave of evictions and foreclosures will cause more infections, hasten displacement, hamper economic recovery, tear communities apart, throw more people into an overwhelmed homelessness system, further entrench racial inequality, and cause untold suffering.

Increased rental assistance is one part of the solution, but the scale of the crisis – with 29% of tenants surveyed by MassINC unable to keep up with all rent payments from April through June – means that approach alone is not nearly enough. There is widespread support for bold action, with the same poll showing 75% of state residents back an extension of the eviction moratorium.

An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability during the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery meets the challenge of this moment, ensuring housing stability by:

Protecting tenants

  • protects tenants who are unable to pay rent due to a direct or indirect impact of COVID-19 against eviction for non-payment (for payments missed 3/10/20 through 12 months after the end of the State of Emergency)
  • stops “no-cause” evictions through 12 months after the end of the State of Emergency with the option for municipalities to extend this “just cause” protection longer
  • halts rent increases through 12 months after the end of the State of Emergency
  • prevents unfair damage to credit and negative court records *

Assisting homeowners

  • extends the ban on foreclosures of most owner-occupied properties *
  • extends the right to mortgage deferment (with payments put on the end of the loan) through 12 months after the end of the State of Emergency
  • ensures borrowers cannot be charged penalties for missed payments during the forbearance

Stabilizing landlords

  • expands the right to a mortgage deferment to landlords who own up to 15 rental units
  • establishes a COVID-19 Housing Stability and Recovery Fund to assist property owners who lost rental income or missed mortgage payments due to the pandemic
  • ensures working-class homeowners and owner-occupant, non-profit, and small-scale landlords have first priority in receiving support from the Fund, and creates an oversight board with representation from communities hardest hit by the pandemic and housing crisis

We urge you to pass this bill quickly in order to protect residents who are suffering through no fault of their own, to safeguard public health, and to set the stage for a strong and equitable economic recovery.

*Applies to payments missed from 3/10/20 through 12 months after end of the State of Emergency.

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