City Councilors Stephanie Martins and Michael McLaughlin were set to propose a City ‘Pay the Rent’ program at Tuesday night’s Council meeting – a program that would require a $2 million appropriation to help residents pay their rent or mortgages if they has lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
The program comes as the date for the eviction moratorium quickly approaches on Saturday, Oct. 17. And while the state unveiled the expansion of many housing plans at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, Martins and McLaughlin said there are still many in Everett who may not qualify or who could fall between the cracks of state programs.
Martins said she felt it was time for bold action on evictions at a local level, hence the request for $2 million to help pay for rent.
“Unless the City or State Government takes action, there is no way that our tenants can pay five or more months of late rent, which in Everett could add up to more than $6,000, leading to mass evictions and displacement,” said Martins. “We must be ready to act as our tenants are at a risk of displacement and homelessness, and our landlords who depend on their rent as their main source of income – many of them who are seniors – and need to get paid.”
She added there are many who have lost their jobs, or had their hours severely cut, and may not qualify for state programs.
“Governor Baker’s announcement to add more relief funds is not good enough as the funds are directed to organizations that make applications income limited,” said Martins. “Many individuals went from having a good income to no income at all and don’t qualify on paper. Relief should be based on the resident’s current change of circumstances and need instead.”
McLaughlin said he and Martins have been hearing from residents who need a lifeline, and say that the state’s announcement might not be the catch-all for them. He said he feels like it is the duty of the City to fill the gaps for its residents.
“Councilor Stephanie Martins and I have been talking with countless homeowners and tenants who have asked for a lifeline from their elected leaders,” he said. “This led us to put a request into the Mayor that he immediately make available $2 million from Free Cash to assist Everett residents. We must rise to the occasion on this once-in-a-lifetime occasion and help resolve, or at least lessen, a bad situation. This is the worse health crisis we have experienced in 100 years and that means we must think outside the box and take unprecedented actions during these time. I hope the Mayor can respond today (Wednesday) in good faith and grant this measure immediately.”
The calendar item was scheduled to be heard and voted on at Tuesday night’s meeting, which came after Independent deadlines.