At the end of June, the federal moratorium on evictions will expire, putting thousands of families in Massachusetts at risk for eviction.
Andrea Park is a housing and homelessness staff attorney with the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute. She says the federal moratorium doesn’t protect all tenants and the ones receiving that protection are only saved from the final step of the process, the eviction itself.
“So someone could be legally entitled to these protections but their case would move all the way through and the execution papers might even be handed to the landlord that says you’re able to physically remove this person, but they just have to hold onto that until the end of June,” said Park.
Park says tenants had more protection under a statewide ban on evictions. But since that moratorium was allowed to expire last October, those tenants are now living in limbo.
“We really did make the road to recovery harder by letting evictions begin when we did,” said Park. “For example, we now have a lot of rental relief funds that have come in from the federal government, but because so many evictions are making their way through court, it’s very difficult for people to access those in a timely way and there’s a lot of landlords who are really tired of waiting and who have simply refused to participate.”
Denise Matthews-Turner is the interim executive director for the organization City Life / Vida Urbana. She says her organization’s main mission with housing is making sure tenants know their rights and empowering them to speak up.
“The conditions that keep immigrant families from reaching out for assistance and for help … the imminent threat of deportation suppresses people stepping up to fight for their rights,” said Matthews-Turner. “It is a tactic that we’ve seen used in immigrant communities. Landlords threatening to call the police, or the threat of ICE, is often enough to prompt immigrant families to move without understanding what their rights are.”
For Jeremy DaCruz and Dan Albright, part of knowing their rights means unionizing. Both are members of the Greater Boston Tenants Union, which represents roughly 500 tenants in the Greater Boston area.
Andrea Park - 3:56
Jeremy DaCruz and Dan Albright - 16:07
Denise Matthews-Turner - 23:12
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