Protesters continue push for eviction moratorium

BOSTON — Renters and housing advocates rallied outside the state capitol Thursday, urging the Legislature to restore a temporary ban on evictions that expired about a year ago.

As lawmakers let the eviction moratorium expire last October, the Baker administration instituted a program that used state and federal funding to help prevent evictions, but protesters said Thursday that stronger laws are still needed as the pandemic, and eviction filings, continue.

The legislation (H 1434 / S 891) favored by protesters requires landlords to use all rental assistance options before seeking a COVID-related eviction, directs the state to simplify the process of accessing aid, and restores an eviction ban that would last until 12 months after the end of the state of emergency, which would be June 15, 2022.

“The Housing COVID Equity bill is an eviction diversion bill,” said Right to the City Boston co-director Andres Del Castillo. “It is meant to stop unnecessary evictions or unnecessary homelessness or unnecessary cycles of poverty for not just one person but entire families, entire communities, for generations.”

The bill had a hearing before the Housing Committee in mid-August, and since then, Homes For All Massachusetts says over 24,000 evictions have been filed in court. Rep. Frank Moran (D-Lawrence) bill has support from dozens of lawmakers, including former Housing Committee Co-chair Rep. Kevin Honan, but has languished in committee without a vote since its hearing.

Isaac Simon Hodes, an organizer with Homes for All Massachusetts and Lynn United for Change, said most of the evictions “are completely unnecessary.”

“If all the statements about racial justice and all the thank-yous to frontline workers we heard last year meant anything, our State House has got to pass the COVID-19 Housing Equity bill to prevent even more needless evictions and foreclosures,” he said.