State lawmakers advocate for housing protections amid economic crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic

State lawmakers advocate for housing protections amid economic crisis caused by COVID-19 pandemic

BOSTON — As unemployment rates reach a record high, many have been unable to pay their rent - some are even struggling to find money to eat.

With struggling families in mind, state lawmakers both on Capitol Hill and Beacon Hill have been advocating for housing protections.

Roughly three weeks after tenants and advocates protested outside Boston municipal court for an end to eviction proceedings, the House passed a bill that would block court-ordered evictions until 30 days after the coronavirus state of emergency is lifted.

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“If you can pay, pay,” said Ann Mosely, of Boston. “I’m going to do my best so I stay in good standing and won’t have a balance when all this is over, but for those who literally can’t, their rent should be forgiven by some type of agency, nobody wants to see anybody out on the street.”

Like a record number of Americans Ann Mosely was furloughed from her job at a daycare center. As a single mom, she is worried about making rent while out of work.

“I literally took inventory - bills, food, gas in my car,” said Mosely.

The version of the bill passed in the Senate would block evictions ordered by judges for 90 days. A combination of both bills is expected to be considered by Governor Baker by next week.

Cambridge representative Mike Connolly co-authored the house bill and spoke with Boston 25 News minutes after the measure passed.

“The bill will also put a moratorium on commercial evictions which I know will be a relief to a lot of the small business owners, restaurants and our local retail establishments that are really concerned about their future,” said Connolly.

On Capitol Hill the state’s congressional delegation helped draft a $2 trillion package under the CARES Act that provides six months of student debt relief, $4 billion for homeless assistance and a moratorium on eviction for HUD properties.

Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley is hoping to expand relief measures in a fourth round of federal government support in the wake of the public health crisis caused by the deadly virus.

“We have to mitigate the hurt caused by this crisis and that means giving people debt relief and giving to them for long enough that when this pandemic is behind us, families can economically recover, and for me that does mean rent freezes and mortgage freezes and banning evictions as well as banning utility shut offs,” said Pressley.