BOSTON — A regional planning agency is sounding the alarm on an impending housing “catastrophe” because of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the CDC announced plans to extend an eviction moratorium through the end of the year.
More than 108,000 Massachusetts households will have trouble paying their mortgage or rent, according to a new report from the Massachusetts Area Planning Council [MAPC].
More than half that number, around 61,000 residents, are renters, the agency said.
“I honestly think this is a humanitarian catastrophe waiting to happen,” MAPC executive director Marc Draisen said.
The agency analyzed unemployment and housing data from July. MAPC predicts those struggling households will need about $117 million per month in housing assistance.
“When the eviction moratorium ends, everything that renter owes becomes due and payable on that day and most of them aren’t going to have the ability to make that payment,” Draisen said.
According to MAPC, Boston has 6,645 households in need of more than $18 million in financial assistance.
Lisa Owens is the executive director with City Life, a housing advocacy group in Boston.
“Our staff is now studying what life was like for people in the 1930′s and it’s heartbreaking to see that my staff can see a direct parallel between this time and that time,” Owens said.
Owens said in the last five months, 2,000 residents have contacted City Life for help.
“They need the guarantee of stability so that they can ride out this crisis.” Owens said.
Owens and City Life are lobbying for House Bill 4878, ‘An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability,’ a proposal that would prevent most evictions and foreclosures for at least a year. The Joint Committee on Housing is currently reviewing the bill.
The White House announced Tuesday that the CDC was imposing an eviction moratorium through December for tenants making less than $99,000 year who would otherwise be forced into homelessness. Local courts would handle disputes over eligibility.
Draisen acknowledges landlords also have bills to pay, so he’s calling on banks to step up and offer some relief too.
“The banks have to be involved in this solution because a lot of these small landlords not only have bills for maintenance but they’re paying mortgages, too,” Draisen said.
“I think we need to figure out whether or not there’s any of this debt that can be forgiven. I think we need to figure out whether or not there are ways that payment plans can be enacted,” he said.
Kwesi Matthew in Mattapan is starting to run out of options. The pandemic ended her catering business and she’s dipping into her savings to cover the $1,700 a month rent for her Morton Village apartment.
“If the pandemic [hits] again, which they are talking about October, November, then definitely, it is going to be a problem with rent and bills,” she said.
Here are local communities hit hard by the pandemic’s economic fallout, according to MAPC data:
- $2,971,100 in housing assistance need
- 13,874 unemployment claims
- 3,269 households need assistance
- $2,476,982 in housing assistance need
- 9,998 unemployment claims
- 2,254 households need assistance
- $1,207,326 in housing assistance need
- 4,467 unemployment claims
- 1,007 households need assistance
- $2,271,862 in housing assistance need
- 8,196 unemployment claims
- 2,210 households need assistance
- $2,782,857 in housing assistance need
- 9,823 unemployment claims
- 2,562 households need assistance
- $1,169,997 in housing assistance need
- 4,360 unemployment claims
- 1,045 households need assistance
- $1,150,756 in housing assistance need
- 4,242 unemployment claims
- 1,025 households need assistance
- $1,369,318 in housing assistance need
- 4,988 unemployment claims
- 1,209 households need assistance
- $1,306,385 in housing assistance need
- 4,836 unemployment claims
- 1,270 households need assistance
- $2,850,164 in housing assistance need
- 9,795 unemployment claims
- 2,352 households need assistance
- $2,822,179 in housing assistance need
- 9,591 unemployment claims
- 2,745 households need assistance
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