The return of live music, and the end of pandemic-era rental assistance

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Triple and double decker apartments in McCormack Square in East Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Triple and double decker apartments in McCormack Square in East Boston. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This is the Radio Boston rundown for March 30. Tiziana Dearing is our host.

  • For those who had trouble making rent during the pandemic, there's been an extra lifeline. It offered more money than typical rental assistance programs, it was more flexible, and more people qualified for it. It was called ERAP, or the Emergency Rental Assistance Program. And it's going away. The Baker Administration has announced the state will stop taking new applicants on April 15. There is another program, a state program called RAFT (Residential Assistance for Families in Transition), but it's much, much less money, and it's much harder to qualify for it. Laura Villafane is one of those people who got that federal aid, and she's now a housing specialist with Maverick Landing Community Services, helping other families who need rental relief. She joins us to share how ERAP helped her get by, and what it will mean for the program to be discontinued. Then we turn to Kelly Turley, associate director at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, to talk about what it would take to extend the program, or find an alternative.
  • The FDA and CDC this week surprised us by authorizing second boosters of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for adults over 50 and people who are immunocompromised. Meanwhile, wastewater COVID data and positive cases have ticked up slightly in the Boston area, with the contagious omicron BA.2 variant now accounting for over 72% of cases in the region. Could we be looking at another surge? We have questions, and we know you do too. We take your questions with Dr. Cassandra Pierre and Dr. Sabrina Assoumou, infectious disease specialists at Boston Medical Center and assistant professors at Boston University School of Medicine.
  • Many local music venues turned to virtual performances to get through the worst months of the pandemic. But a year and a half later, even though bigger audiences are back in person, local music venues are still employing some of what they learned then to bring music and performance to their audiences now. And with this winter's omicron surge in the rearview window, they're hopeful this summer will be one for the record books. We discuss with Matt Smith, managing director of Club Passim, and JJ Gonson, owner of ONCE Lounge, formerly in Somerville.

This program aired on March 30, 2022.


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