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Lee Stroh August 3, 2020

Newsletter - August 2020

As the clock ticks on the federal moratorium on COVID-19 foreclosures and evictions, homeowners and renters are anxiously wondering whether more relief is on the way — but Congress is mired in negotiations that are not expected to be resolved until early this month.

The most recent U.S. census survey showed that more than 23 million Americans had little or no confidence that they could pay rent for the coming month. More than half reported not having paid their most recent month’s rent.

“Communities across this country need eviction protections and housing assistance in order to avert mass evictions and homelessness,” said Rep. Jesús García (D-Ill.). “If we fail to act, recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the looming economic crisis will be impossible.”

Senate Democrats are pushing a series of bills to broaden the moratorium on COVID-19 foreclosures and evictions, extending it until March 2021 and creating a $100 billion national rental-assistance fund.

While Congress debates, some states have taken action to extend the bans for their residents.

Last month, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker extended the state’s moratorium on COVID-19 foreclosures and evictions an extra 60 days, leaving it in place until Oct. 17. Some lawmakers are calling on the state legislature to do more still, and pass a bill protecting renters and homeowners for a full year.

Others say extending the moratorium will place an unfair burden on mom-and-pop landlords, and want the state to bear the cost.

“The Commonwealth should guarantee rents out of future tax revenue,” said Doug Quattrochi, the executive director of the advocacy group Mass Landlords. “It will be a long time before we’re able to recover from this and people will need a long time to recover so let’s just promise everyone that housing now and the cost will be paid somehow in the future.”

Meanwhile, the eviction proceedings have resumed in more than 30 states, and are expected to pick up in New York and Nevada this month.

In the whole of 2016, there were 2.3 million evictions, noted John Pollock, coordinator of the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel. “There could be that many evictions in August,” he said.

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