For those who are not on vacation but hopefully still enjoying the slower week, we need to speed up just enough to get heard right now as the clock is ticking on critical eviction protections. Homes for All MA Coalition offers us this guidance below. Let’s do this:
Call Governor Baker now – 617-725-4005 – and demand he sign H.5181 to protect against COVID-19 evictions! You can also send a written message with this form, but please call if possible)
Sample message (use your own words):
“Hi this is [name] from [address, city/town]. I’m calling to tell Governor Baker to sign bill H.5181 right away. We need to protect against evictions during the pandemic. H.5181 makes sure tenants know where to get help. And it makes sure people do not get evicted while they’re waiting for assistance. Please sign H.5181 now. Thank you.”
Background: Last week both the State House and State Senate overwhelmingly rejected the Governor’s attempt to weaken eviction protections in the FY21 budget. The eviction protection “outside sections,” now contained in bill H.5181, are now back on Governor Baker’s desk.
A phone call (617-725-4005) or email to Governor Baker demanding that he sign H.5181 into law immediately is critical. With additional federal aid hopefully on the way soon these protections are more critical than ever to ensure vulnerable residents are not forced out into the cold during this dangerous surge.
As we’ve said all along, these measures are not close to adequate. We will continue to fight for real housing stability protections for tenants AND homeowners in 2021. And beyond that, we’ve got a long term battle for real solutions to the housing affordability and displacement crisis. But right now, these concessions will make a real difference for some tenants — so please call the Governor now at 617-725-4005 and send an email too!
H.5181 – Details of the bill (not yet law)
1. Notice of tenant rights
A “notices to quit” is the first step in the formal eviction process. It is a written notice ordering the tenant to leave their home, and for most tenants it is terrifying. In its current form, H.5181 requires these “notices to quit” to include a note that makes clear tenants do not have to leave their homes immediately, along with information about where to get rental assistance and how to protect their legal rights. In order to move to the next stage of the eviction process and file a case in court, landlords would have to provide information to the court demonstrating they had given the required notice to the tenant.
2. Pausing eviction cases while tenants have rental assistance applications in process
H.5181 would require courts to delay eviction cases and to halt “execution” (actual forced move-outs) if a tenant has applied for rental assistance from a state program before the beginning of a trial and is still waiting for a response. This is particularly important because enormous backlogs at regional agencies mean that people are waiting for rental assistance for several months or more after submitting an application.
3. Evaluation and monitoring of the “eviction diversion initiative” The Legislature proposed creation of a 19 person task force to evaluate the “Eviction Diversion Initiative.”
Let people know they can reach out, get help, and connect with the movement. Share the flyers above and share this help page, which also includes contact info for local groups and resources to help tenants, homeowners, and advocates prevent eviction and foreclosure (Spanish help page here). Also, if someone receives a Notice to Quit, please contact Community Legal Aid at 1-855-252-5342 or apply directly for services here: www.communitylegal.org.