Boston Herald: City plans to try to fight evictions

Source: Boston Herald

December 31, 2019

City officials plan to establish “strong, stable neighborhoods” by slashing evictions and building more affordable housing even as the cost of living continues to tick upward during an era of booming development.

“As Boston continues to grow and with new residents and new opportunities, we must continue our hard work to ensure that our current residents are able to remain in the city they call home,” Mayor Martin Walsh said earlier this month.

Boston is now the third- most expensive city in the nation, according to a December analysis by Zumper that places median 1-bedroom monthly rent at $2,500. To afford an apartment at that price, renters would have to earn over $105,000 per year to avoid being “rent burdened” — a federal definition that describes people paying more than one-third of their income toward living expenses.

It’s a salary much higher than what most Bostonians take in. The median house- hold income in the city is $62,021, according to American Community Survey estimates.

More than 6,000 people were evicted from their homes over a three-year period from 2015 to 2017, according to a report released in mid-December by the Eviction Prevention Task Force, established by Walsh.

The figure represents a decrease in evictions by 10% over the period, but Walsh has set a goal for reducing future evictions by 33% in subsidized housing, and 25% in private housing over the next five years.

The biggest factor pushing people out of their homes is the inability to afford rent, according to task force report.

The group was formed to focus the city’s efforts on a set of strategies to reduce evictions. Goals in the coming year include increasing the availability of resources to help with back-rent payments and legal battles. The task force is also seeking better data collection to help inform policy and an overall increase in affordable housing, particularly for households with very low incomes.

“The success the city of Boston has had preventing evictions — through pro- grams, property owner out- reach, and legislation — is tied directly to the focus and energy of the Eviction Prevention Task Force,” Steve Farrell, director of communications and policy for Metro Housing Boston, said in a statement.

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