SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — Governor Charlie Baker has decided to allow the eviction and foreclosure moratorium in the state to expire on Saturday.
It was originally put in place to allow prevent people from losing their homes during the pandemic.
The state’s moratorium on evictions and foreclosures expires on Saturday, but this week, Baker announced a new initiative to help tenants and landlords.
Baker’s office released information about the program and said: “This strategy has been designed to be user friendly and easily accessible for tenants and landlords in need, and is comprised of new or expanded programs to help people stay in their homes.”
The $171 million plan includes the following programs:
$100 million to expand the capacity of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program to provide relief to renters and landlords impacted by COVID-19$48.7 million to HomeBASE and other rapid rehousing programs for when tenants are evicted and are at risk of homelessness$12.3 million to provide tenants and landlords with access to legal representation and related services prior to and during the eviction process, as well as community mediation to help tenants and landlords resolve cases outside of court;$6.5 million for Housing Consumer Education Centers, the “front door” for those facing a housing emergency; and$3.8 million for the Tenancy Preservation Program, to provide case management support and to act as a neutral party to help tenants and landlords come to agreement.
However, a group of advocates in western Massachusetts said it’s not enough.
“It means that there is no legislative backdrop that keeps people from falling off a cliff. While all of that money is needed, it’s going to take weeks for those programs to be implemented,” said Rose Webster-Smith, program coordinator at Springfield No One Leaves.
Springfield No One Leaves is a local organization that helps those on the brink of foreclosure and eviction.
Webster-Smith told Western Mass News they’ve received over 500 calls for help since the pandemic began.
“Our phones have been ringing off the hook, people are scared, they are nervous,” Webster-Smith noted.
When the state moratorium expires, a federal moratorium established by the CDC will stay in effect in Massachusetts through December. This program can prevent evictions for qualified tenants who submit a written declaration to their landlord.
Webster-Smith said this will not help homeowners or landlords and money is not enough to stabilize housing.
“We know that (a) we are hitting the second wave (b) we aren’t going to lift the state of emergency and everybody is going to have jobs again. We need to be stable in our housing during the emergency and the recovery,” Webster-Smith explained.
On the same day the state moratorium expires, Springfield No One Leaves will hold what they call eviction blockage training to practice civil disobedience to help prevent families from getting evicted.