Governor Baker issued an emergency order extending the closure of all public and private schools through the end of the school year, and the closure of all non-emergency child care programs until June 29, 2020 in an effort to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 in the Commonwealth.
Yesterday, Governor Baker signed legislation into law to protect homeowners and tenants from eviction and foreclosure. An Act providing for a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures during the COVID-19 emergency
ensures housing stability for residents and families, and can be read in its entirety here
. A summary can be found at the bottom of this email.
The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education (DHE) is deferring scheduled repayments for its No-Interest Loan Program for a duration of four months to support relief efforts during the COVID-19 public health emergency. These deferments will help approximately 12,000 students that participate in the $5 million program annually funded through the repayment of loans.
Today Mayor Morse released a public statement calling on the State to take control of nursing homes and long-term care facilities in Holyoke for the protection of those residents:
“The recently released State data on positive cases in long term care facilities is alarming, but to the best of our local knowledge, it is an undercounting of the true nature of the spread of this virus in these facilities. The Holyoke Board of Health has been speaking with local long-term care facilities weekly, and more recently, daily, regarding their ability to combat the virus. We believe the situation has become too dire to continue with status quo operations. In partnership with our local Board of Health and our Emergency Management Team, I am calling for immediate State intervention at Holyoke long-term care facilities with positive COVID-19 cases, and for the State to implement a plan for direct emergency operational control or physical oversight of all long-term care facilities with positive cases in Massachusetts.” Full statement here
The city has opened up two sanitary stations to ensure that our homeless population has access to clean and safe bathrooms and hand washing stations. We will be working with partners such as Hope-for-Holyoke and Tapestry Health to conduct outreach and wellness checks, as well as provide meals. This initiative is thanks to funding from the state that was coordinated by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission and our Local Board of Health.
Testing has a turnaround time of 1 – 4 days and many cases are being clinically diagnosed (no testing or reporting involved). All are advised to behave as though they are carriers of Covid-19.
459 Holyoke residents have been confirmed positive by testing.
2,533 confirmed cases in Hampden County (4% increase)
337 in Hampshire (1.5% increase)
192 in Franklin (3% increase)
404 in Berkshire county (4% increase)
The curve we need to flatten: County numbers graphed over time can be found here: https://www.wmasscovid.com/
Massachusetts has experienced a total of 1,961 deaths connected to Covid-19.
Mass Law Reform has provided this summary of what the new Eviction law provides:
For tenants: the moratorium temporarily halts all stages of eviction, specifically:
· Stops landlords from sending notices of eviction and filing new eviction cases
· Stops courts from scheduling non-emergency hearings, entering judgments (including agreements for judgment), and issuing executions
· Stops sheriffs from levying on executions to remove tenants
· Applies to most evictions with limited exceptions for true emergencies involving conditions or conduct endangering the health and safety of others
It also prevents late fees and negative credit reporting for COVID-19 affected tenants.
For homeowners in 1-4 family owner-occupied properties it temporarily:
· Stops residential foreclosures from going forward
· Requires lenders to offer a mortgage forbearance for homeowners affected by COVID-19, with payments added to the end of the loan
· Prevents negative credit reporting for homeowners in forbearance
· Gives landlords access to tenants’ last month’s rent to cover expensesThe moratorium also pauses evictions on small businesses and makes it easier to access reverse mortgages.
The moratorium will remain in effect for either 120 days from today or 45 days following the end of the state of emergency, whichever is sooner. This can be extended by the Governor to ensure it does not end before the state of emergency is lifted plus a reasonable time period.