The ongoing economic repercussions of the pandemic are putting millions of Americans at risk of eviction and foreclosure and deepening socioeconomic inequities. States are in critical need of federal resources — significant relief funding and massive policy changes — to address the looming housing crisis. But the Republican Senate majority in Washington and an indecisive Trump administration’s abdication of responsibility for the crisis have made it increasingly clear that Massachusetts is on its own.
Governor Charlie Baker’s plan to support renters, homeowners, and property owners as the Massachusetts moratorium on evictions lifts on Saturday is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough (“Baker bids to forestall crisis of evictions,” Page A1, Oct. 13). The Metropolitan Area Planning Council has predicted that at least 80,000 households in Massachusetts would struggle to meet their housing costs this month. The relief plan proposed by Baker won’t come close to addressing that need.
In addition to further expanding funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, we need to fund a significant outreach effort to inform the communities hit hardest by COVID-19 about the financial and legal resources available to them. We also need to make it easier for people to navigate the court process through today’s virtual formats, and we should expand funding for legal assistance to help with COVID-19-related evictions.
The economic and public health impacts of the pandemic will continue for months, and it is critical that we implement a relief strategy that will support our communities throughout its duration.
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