Without Federal or State Moratorium in Place to Protect Residents, Campbell Calls on City to Implement Citywide Moratorium “Immediately”
BOSTON – Today, Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell called for an emergency eviction moratorium in Boston after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week overturned action by the Biden Administration and CDC to extend the federal moratorium.
“Housing stability is essential to keep Bostonians safe and healthy, especially amidst this deadly pandemic. As the deadlier delta variant spreads, it must be our top priority to keep people in their homes and we cannot wait. I urge Acting Mayor Janey to enact a citywide eviction moratorium immediately and to expedite the federal rental assistance process in Boston to ensure those who qualify for the program receive the funds they need to stay in their homes,” said Councilor Campbell. “The thousands of Boston families that are vulnerable to eviction because of the pandemic largely live in communities of color where COVID-19 infection rates have consistently been highest and vaccination rates are lower. This is not just about housing justice but also racial justice and economic justice.”
While nearby municipalities like Somerville, Cambridge, and Malden have implemented their own eviction moratoriums, Boston has not.
As families struggle to cope with the financial impacts of the pandemic, advocates estimate that approximately 100,000 households across Massachusetts are at risk of eviction. When Governor Baker ended the statewide moratorium in October 2020, evictions quickly climbed to pre-pandemic levels: since then, over 18,000 evictions have been filed across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. During the COVID-19 pandemic and before the state and federal evictions moratoriums, 78% of all evictions filed in Boston were in census tracts where the majority of residents are people of color.
While millions of dollars in rental relief funds are available, including over $50 million in Boston, it has been slow to reach families that qualify. Data show that just 11% of federal funding for rental relief has been distributed at a national level – and less than 50% at the state level meaning that residents at risk of being evicted have had a hard time accessing the capital they need to stay housed. As of August 2nd, the City of Boston had distributed $16 million in rental relief to just over 3000 families.
Earlier this month, Councilor Campbell joined the Massachusetts Coalition for Health Equity, a local organization of physicians, scientists, lawyers, and community leaders, in their push for an eviction moratorium. She was one of the only elected officials to sign on to their petition.
Campbell’s housing plan includes several steps she would take as mayor to maximize pandemic relief, prevent displacement, and increase housing stability long-term, including:
Fully resourcing the Office of Housing Stability, the City’s one-stop-shop for renters and families facing displacement, eviction or homelessness;
Making the City’s Rental Relief Fund permanent;
Creating a workforce housing voucher program to reach low and middle-income residents and cut down on BHA waitlists;
Updating the Fair Chance Tenant Selection Policy to prohibit discrimination against potential tenants with histories in housing court;
Expanding the City’s landlord-tenant mediation program and strengthening tenant protections including guaranteed legal representation in housing court.