As the state of emergency is about to end, the needs of communities hit hardest by COVID-19 are being sidelined again. Recent Globe coverage (“What pandemic changes will remain?” Metro, May 23) doesn’t even mention critical eviction protections that expire in June.
More than 16,000 evictions have been filed in Massachusetts during the pandemic, disproportionately harming low-income residents and people of color. In most cases, a state law currently requires courts to pause eviction if a tenant is waiting for an overwhelmed system to process their rental assistance application. When that rule ends on June 15, people behind on rent due to COVID-19 will instead be pushed from their homes. With permanent eviction marks on their records, they will struggle to relocate and may become homeless. Even minimal protection from the loophole-riddled CDC moratorium, which halts the final physical removal stage of eviction, ends June 30.
The Legislature must respond by protecting against evictions and foreclosures with emergency measures based on the COVID-19 Housing Equity bill. If expressions of concern for social justice prompted by the pandemic and recent civil rights mobilizations are going to be more than empty words, we must act now to protect vulnerable people from displacement.
Isaac Simon Hodes
The writer is a member of the leadership team of Homes for All Massachusetts and a community organizer with Lynn United for Change.