Housing Committee votes to advance the COVID-19 Housing Stability Act

OCTOBER 1, 2020

We are pleased to report the legislature's Joint Committee on Housing has voted, 14-2-1, in support of An Act to guarantee housing stability during the COVID-19 emergency and recovery, also known as the COVID-19 Housing Stability Act.

Originally filed by Representatives Mike Connolly and Kevin Honan as H.4878 in the House and by Senator Pat Jehlen as S.2831 in the Senate, the COVID-19 Housing Stability Act will ban evictions for the duration of the public health emergency and for one year after while offering housing-related financial relief to all who have been impacted by the crisis — that means renters, homeowners, and landlords alike.

Drafting of the bill started in late-March, even before the state's strongest-in-the-nation eviction and foreclosure moratorium was signed into law, and the bill was introduced on June 30 with the support of 89 legislative co-sponsors and over 200 housing justice, labor, community, and faith-based organizations. More information about the bill is available here.

Rep. Connolly would like to thank Housing Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Honan and Senator Brendan Crighton for putting the bill up for a vote and recommending that it "ought to pass." Thanks as well to the members of the Housing Committee and to the many housing justice organizes and advocates who have worked in partnership to draft the bill and advocate for its advancement over the past three months. Just yesterday, Rep. Connolly and Senator Jehlen joined with members of the Homes For All coalition to advocate for passage of the bill in front of the State House.

The Housing Committee today favorably reported a new draft the of the bill, H.5018, which includes all of the main elements of the original bill (strong eviction protections, a local option for permanent just cause eviction protections, a rent freeze, protections against debt collection and eviction records, foreclosure protections, an expanded mortgage forbearance and deferment protection for homeowners and landlords, and a housing stability fund to help cancel rent and fill in the gaps in existing programs). The committee draft actually expands the eviction protections from the original draft; it expands eligibility for the RAFT program, and it also creates new tax credit program for landlords that would allow them to write off any rental losses in exchange for agreeing to rent cancellation

The bill now moves to the Committee on Rules of the two branches, acting concurrently. Governor Baker has indicated he plans to allow the state's current eviction and foreclosure moratorium law to expire on October 17. In response, the Homes for All coalition has planned a week of action to advocate for the bill and prepare for the possibility of eviction blockade actions. Members of the public are encouraged to join the movement to pass the Housing Stability Act via this page.