In a pandemic, staying in one’s home has to be a prescription
The projection that 120,000 Massachusetts households face eviction indicates a catastrophic and unnecessary “tsunami” of suffering, as one stakeholder warns (“A disaster delayed now comes due,” Page A1, June 28).
Putting people on the streets, leading to greater reliance on shelters and on staying with friends and relatives, would lead to more cases of COVID-19, more deaths, and more people with long-term severe health issues. There will be social and economic consequences beyond the individual and family suffering.
People must be allowed to stay in their homes during our nationwide health crisis. State and federal subsidy programs can be extended and created, paid for by marginally increasing taxes on the wealthy or by reducing the disproportionate levels of spending for the military and police.
Another, healthier, and more secure Commonwealth and nation are possible.
The writer is president of the Campaign for Peace, Disarmament, and Common Security.
‘The horror of watching your life being thrown over a cliff’
The dread. Knowing that the day is coming, making its slow, unstoppable advance. Being aware that it will arrive in a shocking instant, when the official knocks on the door with the order to evict.
Then you will be cast into a spinning, surreal state, unable to escape the horror of watching your life being thrown over a cliff. At the same time, your mind will somehow separate you, protect you. You will be a watcher, forced to witness the destruction of another you.
Grab what you can! Which mementos define your life? Beyond the clothes on your back, what’s practical? Do you leave family photos in the pile on the sidewalk and take the cherished baby clothes? Your mind does somersaults, weighing impossible choices.
How many plastic bags can you carry in each hand, looking like some kind of upside-down balloon vendor?
Bombs dropped cause immediate violence — the tearing of flesh, splintering of bones, burning of skin. This is a slower violence, a drawn-out dissolving.
Sour odor. Old clothes.
Dying a little, meekly, as an indifferent world moves on.
Mass. lawmakers stirred up this ‘tsunami’ by imposing moratorium
The consequence of the current eviction moratorium in Massachusetts leading to a “tsunami” of evictions was well known to the Legislature and to advocates who now express concern regarding its pending expiration (”A disaster delayed now comes due”).
Prior to this law, the Housing Court had established standing orders prohibiting evictions during the coronavirus crisis while ensuring ongoing access to court resources, including mediators, financial and mental health services, and payment agreements to preserve housing. Notwithstanding these balanced orders, the Legislature elected to create this potential “tsunami” by allowing rent arrears to increase to insurmountable levels while leaving tenants in the dark as to available resources.
While landlords continue to work to preserve housing through repayment and rent deferral agreements, the moratorium actually discourages such cooperation. Worst, this law ends up hurting tenants. Just letting the debt grow is not the solution.
This moratorium also extends far beyond those suffering financially. It applies regardless of a person’s income and prevents homeowners from moving into their own homes.
Kicking the can down the road sets up at-risk families for failure without effectively dealing with the issues or finding concrete solutions. It’s time the Legislature address these systemic problems, not by imposing the burden on innocent owners, but by providing funding and resources for people in need, increasing Section 8 vouchers, and allowing the fundamental right to access to justice by reopening our courts.
Instead of the current strategy of pitting landlords against tenants, let’s work together to achieve the common goal of preserving housing rather than hiding our heads in the sand.
Jeffrey C. Turk
The writer is a lawyer who represents commercial and residential landlords.
Lean on government, not property owners, for a bailout
As an independent landlord, I would say that Senator Elizabeth Warren’s bill that would halt nearly all evictions through March 2021 is a terrible idea (”New efforts to block evictions,” Metro, June 30). When small (and big) landlords stop collecting rent, they will also stop making repairs and improvements to properties and paying expenses, including real estate taxes that are a major source of funds for cities and towns.
If a bailout is needed, it should come from the federal government and not the property owners who still need to pay their usual expenses with no relief or help.