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Newton eyes $2.5 million fund to help local renters

Newton City HallSuzanne Kreiter/Globe staff

Newton officials are considering a $2.5 million Emergency Housing Relief package to help local renters facing economic hardship during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Ruthanne Fuller.

Widespread business shutdowns and stay-at-home advisories issued during the public health crisis have hit cost-burdened households hard, Fuller said in a statement Friday. Those households spend more than 30 percent of their income toward housing costs, she said.

“Given our expensive housing costs, Newton rental households, especially those with low to moderate incomes, may be enduring an especially difficult period now,” Fuller said.

Earlier this month, City Councilor Bill Humphrey of Ward 5 proposed an emergency fund to assist renters.

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“I think everyone agrees that it is not in Newton’s long-term interest if we suddenly have a bunch of people losing their homes now, or in a few months,” Humphrey said in a previous interview.

Humphrey’s measure has support from several of his City Council colleagues, including President Susan Albright, and Fuller.

In her statement Friday, Fuller said the city’s housing team with its Planning and Development Department has found a way to help affected households with short-term rent relief.

Officials propose using $2 million in Community Preservation Act money, as well as $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds, to create the rental assistance program, Fuller said.

The proposal calls for helping income-eligible Newton households cover a portion of their monthly rent for up to a three-month period, Fuller said.

A presentation of the rental program is scheduled for a joint meeting of the city’s Community Preservation Committee and the Planning and Development Board on May 4 at 7 p.m., according to Fuller.


John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.