Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the Boston Housing Authority said Thursday it would stop pursuing all “non-essential” evictions while the public health emergency is ongoing.
In a letter to the state housing court, Kate Bennett, the authority’s administrator, defined “non-essential” as non-payment or “cause” cases that do not involve crimes nor lease violations that harm someone’s health and safety.
The authority provides affordable housing to more than 58,000 residents in and around Boston.
State officials said Thursday that the tally of coronavirus cases in the state had jumped to 108, up from 95 the day before, including 102 presumed positive cases and six confirmed by federal public health authorities.
In her letter, Bennett asked the court to allow “future requests for reasonable continuances with respect to any scheduled trial or hearings relating to non-essential cases.” The authority planned to suspend its filing and prosecution of such cases for the duration of the state of emergency that Governor Charlie Baker declared on Tuesday.
The housing authority, said Bennett, was trying to “safeguard the health and safety of BHA residents and our employees." She hoped the measure would help “mitigate the potential transmission of the virus by reducing the number of in-person interactions in the Housing Court.”
In a separate statement Thursday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh said, “As we continue our focus on ensuring residents are safe and healthy from the spread of coronavirus, it’s critical that we minimize disruptions that could have a negative impact on their well-being and ability to protect themselves during this challenging time, and I urge the court system in Massachusetts to offer leniency to those facing non-essential evictions.”