BOSTON (State House News Service) — Calls are growing for Gov. Charlie Baker to extend a moratorium on non-emergency evictions and foreclosures beyond its scheduled mid-August expiration, with advocates warning that the current economic climate will place many families in housing crises without further action.
In a new report from Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers and the City Life / Vida Urbana group, authors cautioned that the Boston area faces an "impending crisis" of evictions. Unemployment is at unprecedented levels amid a pandemic-prompted national recession, and roughly one in five renter families across the state will be unable to afford housing costs, according to the report.
Baker signed a bill on April 20 imposing a 120-day mandatory pause on almost all housing removal procedures, despite urging from landlords that he allow them to issue notices to quit. The new law allows him to extend it in 90-day intervals if the public health crisis continues.
Rep. Kevin Honan, the House chair of the Legislature's Housing Committee, and Boston Mayor Martin Walsh both added their voices via Twitter to those calling on Baker to trigger an extension. Honan also said he is working with Rep. Mike Connolly on additional legislation to "promote housing stability."
Walsh called for Beacon Hill leaders to add "whatever supports are necessary to protect landlords from foreclosure and other harms" to a longer moratorium.
"Housing insecurity is clearly an issue of racial equity as well as general economic disruption," he tweeted.
The impacts of a possible surge in removals would be most pronounced on people of color and other disproportionately vulnerable groups, authors wrote in the City Life / Vida Urbana and MIT report. Their research found that 52 percent of Boston's rental units are in majority-nonwhite communities, while 70 percent of evictions are filed in the same neighborhoods.
"When the dust settles on the immediate crisis, and evictions once again proceed, Boston's communities of color will face an unprecedented surge in evictions," they wrote.
By Chris Lisinski, State House News Service
(Photo: Getty Images)