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Bill Aims To Extend Eviction Moratorium For One Year After Emergency Lifts

The Massachusetts State House and flag. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
The Massachusetts State House and flag. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

A group of lawmakers, including one of the leaders of the Housing Committee, will push for lasting housing relief in the coming weeks that would keep a mandatory pause on evictions and foreclosures in place for more than a year.

The bill filed Tuesday by Rep. Mike Connolly and Rep. Kevin Honan aims to prevent what they say could be tens of thousands of housing removals if an existing moratorium expires on Aug. 18 and to make more support available for tenants and homeowners most impacted by the economic downturn.

Their legislation would impose a moratorium on evictions and moratoriums for failure to pay until one year after Gov. Charlie Baker lifts the public health emergency he declared amid the pandemic and freeze rents for the same duration at their pre-outbreak levels.

To help property owners and landlords with 15 or fewer units, the bill would also create a state fund that would offer aid to those who were unable to pay housing costs due to the pandemic. The proposal does not define the size of the fund, and it allows it to be funded from multiple sources.

In a blog post explaining the bill, Connolly said the state Housing Court estimates 20,000 eviction cases will be filed as soon as the existing moratorium ends, which could prompt new infections and higher rates of homelessness.

"While we don't yet know the full scale of the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, we know it will be immense," Connolly wrote. "This crisis has already taken a disproportionate toll on the most vulnerable among us including low-income tenants, elders, immigrants, front line workers, and Black and Latinx renters and homeowners."

Connolly and Honan, who co-chairs the Legislature's Housing Committee, plan to discuss their bill on Thursday alongside Senate author Patricia Jehlen, co-sponsor Rep. Nika Elugardo, and community and housing justice advocates.

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