The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has instituted a new eviction moratorium that replaces the one recently expired. This moratorium is targeted to counties that have substantial and high levels of COVID-19, which currently includes Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket counties.
Even though the new federal moratorium is expected to last until October 3, Housing Assistance Corporation is urging renters to apply for the agency’s public and private funds to help pay the rent they owe before the eviction moratorium is lifted. The new moratorium is based on CDC data regarding community transmission of COVID-19 and its applicability in each county is subject to change.
Housing Assistance CEO Alisa Magnotta stressed the importance of applying for financial assistance now in order to qualify for the eviction moratorium and stay housed. If tenants lose their housing, there are very few places for them to move on Cape Cod and the islands.
“Summer is always a difficult time for year-rounders to find housing and the pandemic has made this worse. In the past six weeks, we’ve seen 50 families with working parents come into our office for help to stay housed,” she said. “Often their landlord has sold the property and there is simply nowhere for them to move. They are staying on the couches of friends and family or sleeping in their cars, waiting out the summer in the hopes that more rentals will open up in the fall.”
To qualify for the eviction moratorium, tenants must meet the eligibility requirements, apply for assistance, fill out a declaration form outlining their eligibility, and give a completed copy of the declaration form to their landlord. The financial assistance application and declaration form can be found on Housing Assistance’s website, www.haconcapecod.org.
“We strongly urge anyone behind on rent to access our COVID-19 and other financial assistance programs and start getting their rent back on track. When the moratorium ends, all back rent will quickly come due. And no one can afford to lose their housing when there are so few rentals available.” Ms. Magnotta said.
To address the critical lack of available rentals, Housing Assistance advocates at the state and town levels to encourage more housing to be built at prices that local workers can afford.
“Each of us can help by speaking up at town meetings to support rezoning to allow the creation of multifamily rental properties, conversion of underutilized commercial space to housing, and accessory dwelling unit bylaws that allow homeowners to create small apartments on their existing property,” Ms. Magnotta said.
The financial assistance program is also intended to help prevent the loss of more rental units in the Cape Cod market. Many landlords on the Cape and islands own just one or two properties and rely on the side income to cover the costs of the rental property or their own living expenses. “If landlords cannot pay their bills due to uncollected rent, they might be forced to sell their properties, which could further deplete available rental inventory,” Ms. Magnotta said. “That would end up hurting those who need rental properties to live here.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Housing Assistance has administered more than $4 million in financial assistance for renters and homeowners in the region. More funding is available for people who are behind on rent. Housing Assistance utilizes a universal application for all financial assistance programs, so people only need to complete one application to apply to all of the agency’s available programs. For federal rental relief programs, households can be directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19 and some programs have no requirement for a COVID-19 connection.
Contact Housing Assistance Corporation at 508-771-5400 or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about the host of rental assistance and other resources administered by HAC.