Boston to offer $50 million in rent relief to eligible tenants

Mayor Janey spoke about new rental relief funding today during a press conference at City Hall. Photo courtesy Mayor's Office/John Wilcox

Mayor Kim Janey announced today that $50 million in rent relief— much of it made possible by an infusion of federal aide just released by the Biden administration— will be made available for eligible Boston residents starting immediately.

“The reality is many Boston families will still need help with housing costs to get through this pandemic,” Janey said during a press conference on Tuesday. “So today, I will make $50 million available for the city of Boston's rental relief fund. This new funding will help renters remain in their homes and help landlords who are struggling.”

The city will be partnering with non-profits to administer the funds –up to $15,000 per eligible household – for use for both back and future rent and utility costs. Janey made the announcement one day after the Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended the federal eviction moratorium through June 30th.

“We encourage tenants and landlords to communicate and work together during this challenging time,” Janey said “For those tenants who are not able to reach an agreement with their landlords, this money can help them make a move. Funds will be available for certain moving costs as well as first and last month’s deposits.”

The Boston Rental Relief Fund gave out more than $7.8 million to more than 1,860 households in 2020. Tenants must earn less than 80 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or $96,250 for a family of four and be financially impacted by Covid-19 to qualify. Applicants will be required to show that they do not “receive a rental subsidy or have funds to meet their needs.” Finally, the program does not apply to full-time undergraduate or graduate students.

During a press availability today, Janey also commented on the arrest of retired Boston Police Captain Richard Evans as part of an ongoing investigation of alleged overtime fraud in the BPD. Evans was arrested on Monday.

“Any fraud is unacceptable,” Janey said. “It breaks public trust. It dishonors the thousands of officers who serve our communities everyday with honesty, integrity and bravery. I am committed to uncovering and rooting our behavior among officers that is inconsistent with our community values.”

Janey highlighted the new office of Police Accountability and Transparency as one way she hopes to build public trust following the fraud allegations. The office – created by former Mayor Walsh in January after a task force recommended action – will provide oversight and investigate public complaints about possible officer misconduct.

More than 30 percent of Bostonians have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, Mayor Janey said as she urged continued vigilance as the city experiences an uptick in virus activity.

"I continue to be worried about this pandemic and how it is impacting the residents of this city," Janey said at a briefing.

She said it is "troubling anytime we see an increase in activity" and that she will work with public health officials to monitor metrics "so that we can adjust if we need to roll back some of the loosening of the restrictions that have already happened at the state level."

Janey said that 130 new cases were recorded in Boston on Monday and two recent deaths linked to COVID-19 were reported. She said the city's positive test rate is 4.2 percent, up from 3.7 percent, illustrating "that many people are still getting COVID."

"The change is largely due to a higher rate of infection among younger residents," Janey said. "More than half of the new cases in the past two weeks have come from Bostonians under the age of 29."

Most young people are still not eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but will become eligible on April 19.

Boston's cumulative COVID-19 caseload stands at 63,748, and 1,341 city residents with the respiratory disease have died, according to data from the city's public health commission.
Janey also answered questions regarding the recent reopening of schools and Boston Public Schools’ next steps, especially considering recent data that shows a higher infection rate among younger residents of Boston.

“We will continue to look closely at the data and I will work closely with the superintendent, with the educators, as well as the public health officials here so that if we need to make any adjustments around that time table then we will do so together,” Janey said.

Janey said she aims to get educators, as well as all Boston residents, vaccinated as quickly as possible. She noted the toll the pandemic has had on younger residents, but emphasized the importance of reopening safely.

“The arrival of vaccines brings new hope, but stopping the spread requires our continued vigilance,” Janey said. “Let's all work together to keep ourselves and our communities safe.”

Reporting by Katie Lannan the State House News Service contributed to this story.

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