Fifty-Three Housing Owners and Operators Sign ‘Eviction Diversion Pledge’ to Keep Over 57,000 Tenants and Families Safely Housed

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Dara Kovel

BOSTON— The Baker-Polito Administration, MassHousing, CHAPA, and the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Organizations (MACDC) announced a five-point Eviction Diversion Pledge, a commitment from Massachusetts property owners and operators to working with tenants facing financial difficulties because of the pandemic and supporting housing stability during the ongoing fight against the spread of COVID-19.

As of November 10, 2020, over 53 property owners committed to the Pledge, representing over 57,654 homes across the Commonwealth.

“As the owner of over 18,000 affordable and mixed-income homes, with 9,000 in the Commonwealth, we helped to develop this pledge to demonstrate our commitment to keeping tenants stably housed during this time of uncertainty and to encourage other owners across the state of Massachusetts to join us,” said Dara Kovel, chief executive officer of Beacon Communities. “Housing is a right – not a privilege – and stable, affordable housing is crucial to the health and well-being of our communities.”

The signers of the Massachusetts’ Eviction Diversion Pledge promise to:

  1. Abide by and support the current CDC Eviction Moratorium
  2. Proactively engage with residents and create payment plans
  3. Support and accept rental assistance payments
  4. Promote rent adjustments for Section 8/MRVP families
  5. Encourage structured and interactive mediation

As of November 10, 2020, the following organizations have signed the Massachusetts’ Eviction Diversion Pledge: Asian CDC, Beacon Communities, Berkshire Housing Development Corporation, Capstone Communities, Caritas Communities, Codman Square NDC, Community Development Partnership, Dorchester Bay Economic Development Corporation, Fenway CDC, First Realty Management, Harborlight Community Partners, Hilltown CDC, Homeowners Rehab, Inc., Housing Management Resources/Home City Housing, Housing Nantucket, Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción, Jamaica Plain NDC, Just-A-Start Corporation, Lena Park CDC, Lawrence Community Works, Madison Park Development Corporation, Main South CDC, Maloney Properties, Metro West Collaborative Development, Mission Hill Neighborhood Housing Services, NeighborWorks Housing Solutions, Neighborhood of Affordable Housing, NewVue Communities, North Shore CDC, Nuestra Comunidad Development Corporation, OneHolyoke CDC, Peabody Properties, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Somerville Community Development Corporation, Southwest Boston CDC, Spring Meadow Association of Responsible Tenants, Inc., The Community Builders, The Neighborhood Developers, Trinity Financial, Urban Edge, Victory Programs Inc., WATCH CDC, Way Finders, Winn Companies, and Worcester Common Ground. Additional owners and operators continue to and are encouraged to sign the pledge.

“Over the past nine months, we have worked with thousands of our residents across Massachusetts as job and income loss, food insecurity, healthcare access, social isolation, school and childcare closures and rising expenses have plagued our communities during this public health crisis,” the pledge reads. “Compassion for the residents who call our communities home is a principle of each of our organizations and as such, we believe it is vital to take a leadership role in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The social, public health and financial stability of the Commonwealth, its cities and towns, housing owners and operators and residents are interwoven, and we understand the critical role each party must play by standing together during this crisis. We pledge to stand with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Governor Baker in support of Housing Stability and Public Health,” the pledge concludes.

“Preventing evictions is going to require a team effort with involvement from government at the local, state and federal levels, as well as the full engagement of landlords, tenants, philanthropy, the faith community and others,” said Joe Kriesberg, president of the Massachusetts Association of Community Development Corporations (MACDC). “We are proud that so many affordable housing owners are stepping up to their mission by going the extra mile to ensure housing stability during this pandemic.”

“When people can stay in their homes and owners can keep their buildings healthy, our communities are better for it,” said Rachel Heller, chief executive officer of Citizens’ Housing & Planning Association (CHAPA). “By signing this pledge, large-scale affordable housing owners, community development corporations, and small property owners are all demonstrating a real commitment to residents, helping them stay in their homes throughout this turbulent time.”

“MassHousing commends the partnership of these mission-driven rental property owners, who have taken a leadership role to help households across the Commonwealth in their time of great need,” said MassHousing executive director Chrystal Kornegay. “This collaborative effort between public, private and non-profit participants is singularly focused on preventing evictions related to COVID-19 and keeping Massachusetts residents struggling to cope with the pandemic in their homes.”

Prior to the Massachusetts eviction moratorium expiring on October 17th, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a comprehensive set of resources, known as the Eviction Diversion Initiative, to support tenants and landlords during the financial challenges caused by the pandemic. The Administration is making a $171 million total commitment this fiscal year, including $100 million in new funding to help cover rent and mortgage payments, $12 million to invest in new programs for mediation and legal representation, and nearly $50 million to provide rapid rehousing.

“The Baker-Polito administration’s Eviction Diversion Initiative is a key part of our economic recovery plan because when you keep people housed, you give them the opportunity to get back to work and back on track,” said Secretary of Housing and Economic Development Mike Kennealy. “Collaboration has always been essential to tackling the ever-present housing crisis in Massachusetts, and this commitment from affordable housing owners and operators to keep people in their homes is critical and laudable as we work to address the dual challenges of virus spread and housing stability.”

“These mission-based partners, ranging from small property owners to large affordable housing operators, are key collaborators in our strategy to avert evictions and ensure stability for families with children through the end of the school year,” said Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Jennifer Maddox. “By pledging to work with their tenants and support our rental assistance programs RAFT and ERMA, these owners and operators are stepping up during this pandemic to keep people safe and secure in their homes.”