Boston Globe: Renters, homeowners need protection now

Source: Boston Globe

Recent relief from the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court is not an excuse to delay the legislative action that needs to follow.

With the governor’s stay-at-home advisory now extended to May 4, the notion of “home” — of a safe and secure place to live — becomes ever more crucial. And today that means extending protections to both renters and borrowers in Massachusetts, allowing them a measure of security during these difficult times.

The Supreme Judicial Court took the first step when it essentially shut down courthouses to the public and made clear that all eviction hearings would be postponed. That’s been a huge relief, and that de facto eviction moratorium has now also been extended to May 4. But the breathing room that order has provided should not be used as an excuse to delay the kind of legislative action that needs to follow.

The recently passed federal stimulus package did contain some protections against evictions — but only for residents of federally subsidized housing, such as Section 8 voucher holders, and holders of federally backed mortgages. The latter in particular is no small thing, since it includes mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It will remain in place until the end of the national emergency declaration, but it also includes up to a year of forbearance, allowing mortgage holders to tack on those unmade payments to the end of their mortgages.

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