On Sunday, Oct. 11, roughly one hundred people gathered in Boston Common to protest the end of the Massachusetts statewide eviction moratorium, and rallied to support the passage of a bill that would extend the ban.
The end of the eviction moratorium was predicted to cause thousands of renters and homeowners across the state of Massachusetts to end up on the street by Oct. 17, when the moratorium is set to end, according to NBC Boston.
The bill that demonstrators rallied for would “keep a moratorium in place until one year after the COVID-19 state of emergency ends, freeze rent during that span and create a fund to help distressed small landlords,” wrote NBC Boston.
The tenants’ rights group City Life/Vida Urbana planned Sunday’s rally.
According to the Boston Globe, demonstrators gathered around the Brewer Fountain and carried homemade banners and signs, including a six-foot sign that said: “Eviction Free Zone.”
Rep. Mike Connolly of Cambridge, one of the bill's sponsors, was in attendance of the rally.
According to the Boston Globe, Rep. Connolly said at the rally on Sunday that passing the bill could be difficult because there were no formal House sessions the week of the protest. The bill has passed the Legislature's Housing Committee, but has not gotten any further.
On Oct. 3, Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh announced that the city of Boston is making sure that residents at risk of eviction are aware of their legal rights, and of how to access resources such as legal support, financial assistance, and communications outreach.
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Boston has made it a priority to provide supports to residents, including housing assistance,” said Mayor Walsh, according to a press release. “Now more than ever, as we get closer to the end of the statewide eviction moratorium, it's vital that we bolster our efforts to keep residents in their homes."
The eviction moratorium was first signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on April 20, 2020. The measure was set to expire on Aug. 18. However, Gov. Baker extended the moratorium on July 21 to last until Oct. 17.
The law gives Governor Baker the authority to extend the moratorium in 90 day increments, but Governor Baker has said he is not in favor of extending the moratorium again.
However, according to NBC Boston, Governor Baker did announce on Monday, Oct. 12, the Eviction Diversion Initiative: an $171 million plan that would support renters and tenants as the moratorium ends and the pandemic continues.
"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," said Gov. Charlie Baker in a statement according to NBC Boston.
Rep. Connolly has expressed appreciation for Baker’s plan; however, he has stated that it is not enough.
“The Governor has been sitting on some $800 million in CARES Act funds, and he just announced that some of these funds will be made available for rental assistance (i.e. money to landlords) and legal support,” tweeted Representative Connolly. “That’s terrific.... However, what the Gov does not appreciate is how people will be subject to informal or manipulative evictions as soon as the moratorium is lifted.”
The Homes For All Massachusetts coalition marched on governor Baker’s house in Swampscott on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
The Centers for Disease Control has also implemented a federal eviction moratorium that is set to last until the end of the year.
However, executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, Lisa Owens, believes that this will not be enough.
Owens told the Boston Globe that more than 100,000 households in Massachusetts—such as landlords with only a few units, renters who do not qualify for the moratorium, and low to moderate income homeowners who are at risk for foreclosure—will not be protected.