Demonstrators call for state to extend moratorium on evictions and foreclosures

With the state moratorium on evictions set to expire on Oct. 17, nearly 100 protesters gathered outside the Park Street MBTA station at Boston Common on Sunday in support of a bill that would extend the ban.

The crowd surrounded a 6-foot sign reading, “Eviction Free Zone” and carried many handmade banners and placards supporting the bill, including several that said, “Stop 100,000+ Evictions.”

Advocates said the bill, which still needs to pass both branches of the Legislature and get approval by Governor Charlie Baker, would spare more than 100,000 households struggling due to the pandemic from displacement.

“We are just so anxious about what’s going to happen after Oct. 17,” said Lisa Owens, executive director of City Life/Vida Urbana, the tenants’ rights group that planned Sunday’s event.

“This is a crisis we can avert,” she said in a phone interview before the rally. “The clock is ticking,”

As the expiration date approaches, advocates have been ratcheting up pressure on elected officials, with dozens marching in Chelsea earlier in the week and Boston city councilors leaning on Mayor Martin J. Walsh to take action.

Walsh said major property managers had committed to delaying eviction after Oct. 17, and he is pushing a measure that would require landlords to provide information about legal rights along with eviction notices, which some advocates say does not go far enough.

Baker has said that he is not in favor of extending the moratorium, and Owens says advocates plan to protest outside his Swampscott residence on Wednesday.

“I know that Baker sees what we see, and certainly he must be aware of this tidal wave of evictions that are threatening the state that he governs, and we are calling on him to do the right thing,” Owens said.

Although a federal moratorium on evictions and foreclosures is in place through December, she estimates more than 100,000 households will not be protected because the measure does not protect low- and moderate-income homeowners, who could face foreclosure; small landlords with only one or two units; and many renters who don’t qualify or who are cowed by the legal process.

“I think the crisis is so big, and we haven’t seen anything like this in the state before. There is some skepticism [that] could it really happen here,” she said.

With winter approaching and a second wave of COVID-19 infections possible, she said hundreds of thousands of people across the state could be scrambling to find shelter, even pushed out onto the street.

“We have to begin imagining the worst case scenario,” she said.

Lucas Phillips can be reached at [email protected]

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