Rental Relief Program Is a Win-Win

The announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday of a $171 million package of programs that will help renters stay in their homes comes as welcome news for both tenants and landlords alike.

Housing insecurity never is a good thing both for individuals and society-at-large, but that is especially true amidst a pandemic, when overcrowded shelters could become a breeding ground for the coronavirus.

With the state’s moratorium on evictions set to expire at the end of this week, the need to provide relief for renters, many of whom have been affected by the decline in the need for their services in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, and travel), is immediate and necessary to avoid a societal and humane catastrophe for tens of thousands of families across the Commonwealth.

The governor’s plan also comes as good news for landlords for whom evicting a tenant for non-payment always is a last resort. Although the big real estate companies that  own and manage thousands of apartments probably could get by with an increase in defaults on rents, the small landlords, who have just a few apartments and who need the monthly rent in order to pay their mortgages, would be facing financial disaster without a relief package.

Although some may question whether the $171 million is enough to get everybody to the other side of the pandemic — and quite frankly, it probably won’t be — it nonetheless is a good start that can be supplemented as circumstances warrant in the future.

Gov. Baker’s rental relief program comes as good news for all of us. We trust the legislature will join in, and perhaps even augment, what  the governor has proposed.

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