The Guaranteed Housing Stability bill, officially known as An Act to Guarantee Housing Stability During the COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery, H.4878, is pending at the Massachusetts State House. The act presents a longer-term solution to preventing a state-wide eviction crisis than our state's current eviction moratorium, which is set to expire on October 17th, 2020. The Guaranteed Housing Stability bill will provide a year of housing stability to Massachusetts residents by banning evictions due to COVID-19-related nonpayment, stabilizing rents, preventing "no fault" evictions, enabling homeowners to defer their mortgage payments 'til the end of their loan, and establishing a relief fund for small landlords.
Read a fact sheet about the Guaranteed Housing Stability bill HERE.
The science is clear – it is critical for people to physically distance in order to slow the spread of COVID-19, prevent our healthcare system from becoming completely overwhelmed, and save lives. But housing insecurity is currently undermining public health:
- New federal measures offer temporary protections from eviction but no comprehensive solution.
- Homeowners and tenants alike are panicking about mortgage and rent payments. Many households have been hit by huge decreases in income or increases in expenses. The federal coronavirus stimulus does not solve the problem. Some people have experienced delays in getting aid and others – including workers in the informal economy and undocumented people – do not qualify for unemployment or other benefits at all.
- Unhoused people in many communities do not have reliable access to food, clean bathrooms, hand washing facilities, or safe places to sleep. There is no clear statewide plan to allow appropriate isolation for people who are unhoused, living in tight quarters in shelter, or living in overcrowded apartments.
We need immediate action to address these concerns so that people feel confident they can stay home. Otherwise, many workers will worry their housing is in jeopardy and feel compelled to break with physical distancing to earn income in the formal economy or at cash jobs. And those at “essential” workplaces will be more susceptible to pressure to continue to go to work even while sick.
All of this would undermine efforts to “flatten the curve,” leading to an even worse public health catastrophe. Failure to deal with these issues could also lead to a huge post-crisis wave of evictions, foreclosures, displacement, and financial distress on top of the housing crisis and extreme wealth inequality that existed before the pandemic. It would be unconscionable to allow already vulnerable people to bear the heaviest cost for a crisis they did not create.
As this crisis has demonstrated, we cannot continue with a system that puts profit before the human right to housing.