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Kim Janey announces eviction moratorium in Boston, in wake of Supreme Court ruling

"The loss of federal eviction protections and the ongoing pandemic has put our most vulnerable neighbors at risk of losing their homes."

Kim Janey speaks during a news conference at City Hall in Boston earlier this month. Michael Dwyer / AP

After the Supreme Court overturned a federal ban on evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic and amid pressure from fellow Boston mayoral candidates, Acting Mayor Kim Janey announced a citywide eviction moratorium Tuesday.

Effective immediately, the moratorium prohibits landlords or homeowners from serving or enforcing an eviction upon a resident of Boston, except in cases involving “serious violations of the terms of the tenancy that impair the health and safety of other building residents or immediately adjacent neighbors.”

The order, which Janey’s office shared, will remain in effect indefinitely until rescinded by the executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission.

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Janey also announced Tuesday evening that she is directing the Department of Neighborhood Development to create a $5 million Foreclosure Prevention Fund, using federal pandemic relief funds, to help homeowners who are behind on payments cover their costs, including mortgage, insurance, and condominium fees. Janey’s office said priority will be given to those most at risk for foreclosure.

Officials said more details about the fund will be released next week.

“The loss of federal eviction protections and the ongoing pandemic has put our most vulnerable neighbors at risk of losing their homes,” Janey said, adding that she was implementing the raft of measures “to continue Boston’s public health recovery with emergency assistance for renters and homeowners who need help.” 

Unlike several neighboring cities including Cambridge and Somerville, Boston never implemented a local eviction moratorium during the pandemic, with similar federal and statewide bans in place.

However, the Massachusetts eviction moratorium expired last fall. And after President Joe Biden’s administration extended a national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention moratorium, the Supreme Court overturned it last week.

With several million households behind on rent across the country, experts said the ruling would result in an estimated 750,000 evictions in the coming months, as the highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19 continues to rise.

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Janey’s announcement Tuesday comes a day after City Councilor Andrea Campbell, a fellow mayoral hopeful, pressed Janey to take preventive action at the local level.

“Housing stability is essential to keeping Bostonians safe and healthy especially as the deadlier delta variant spreads, which is why yesterday I called for immediate action by the Acting Mayor and public health officials to implement an eviction moratorium,” Campbell said in a statement on Tuesday. “I’m glad Acting Mayor Janey followed our lead to protect families during this difficult time.”

The new moratorium also comes as figures show the majority of rental relief has gone unspent, both at the city and national level.

During the pandemic, Boston allocated $50 million to help renters hit by the deep economic impacts of the pandemic. According to Janey’s office, just over $19 million of that money has been distributed to 3,500 households. While less than 40 percent, the city’s distribution rate is nearly four times the national average.

In total, 12,500 households in Boston have received $72 million in state and city housing stability assistance.  

“I’m committed to blocking evictions, preventing foreclosures, and protecting Boston families, because we all need a great city to call home,” Janey said Tuesday.

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