Somerville protest demands eviction moratorium be extended

SOMERVILLE, Mass. — A brass band was set up to attract people to the Plaza in Davis Square in Somerville. While the music brings people in, it was really a rallying cry to help people on the verge of being homeless.

The group Somerville Eviction Response Network hopes to keep the eviction moratorium in place in Somerville once the federal one expires on June 30.

“I think if we get enough people involved and make noise about it that there will be a lot of pressure on them to extend it,” said Sophia Grogan of the Somerville Eviction Response Network.

Grogan wants it place for another year.

“We are demanding that Somerville elected officials extend our municipal moratorium by 12 months,” she said.

Michael Ventura is facing eviction. He said it’s due to the pandemic.

“My roommates moved out because of COVID,” Ventura said.

He said his landlord now wants him to pay the difference.

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“And so his attitude is ‘well you should pay all the rent that your roommates used to pay.’ Because I can’t afford that he’s like, ‘well now I’m going to try to evict you,’” Ventura said.

Across the country it’s estimated that 10 million renters are behind on paying rent. The non-partisan Center on Budget and Priorities said all together they owe more than $70 billion.

Landlords and property owners welcome the expiration. They say the moratorium is too harsh and that it hurts property owners who still must pay their mortgages. And, they add, it’s also tough to oust problem tenants.

However, in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey is one of 22 AGs across the country who are defending the CDC eviction moratorium from challenges in the Supreme Court. She sent a tweet late last week that said in part:

“Ending the moratorium would jeopardize our fragile recovery.”

Renters on the verge of eviction try to be hopeful, many are also worried they will be homeless in two weeks.

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