Pressley looks to Beacon Hill after Supreme Court ruling on evictions

Boston Statehouse

FILE – In this Jan. 13, 2021, file photo, tenants’ rights advocates demonstrate in front of the Edward W. Brooke Courthouse in Boston. A federal judge is refusing landlords’ request to put the Biden administration’s new eviction moratorium on hold, though she made clear she thinks it’s illegal. U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich on Friday, Aug. 13, said her “hands are tied” by an appellate ruling the last time courts considered the evictions moratorium in the spring. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

BOSTON (SHNS) – After a Thursday Supreme Court ruling struck the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s eviction moratorium, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley called for state and federal action to support renters.

The high court’s 6-3 ruling said Congress “must specifically authorize” a federal eviction moratorium if it is to continue. “It is indisputable that the public has a strong interest in combating the spread of the COVID–19 Delta variant. But our system does not permit agencies to act unlawfully even in pursuit of desirable ends,” the ruling said. Justice Stephen Breyer wrote a dissenting opinion that was joined by Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.

Pressley said policymakers at all levels of government need to take quick action to prevent an “impending eviction crisis.” She said the court’s decision comes with “just over half of people in the United States fully vaccinated, breakthrough infections surging, and only 11 percent of federal emergency rental assistance funds distributed by states and localities.” “In Massachusetts, the Baker administration must expedite the disbursement of these federal emergency rental assistance funds, and I urge my colleagues in the state legislature to swiftly pass the COVID-19 Housing Equity legislation to strengthen eviction protections and help keep families safely housed,” the Dorchester Democrat said in a statement. “Congress should immediately pass legislation to extend the federal eviction moratorium for the duration of the pandemic, which would allow more time for renters and small landlords to receive emergency rental assistance.”

The bill (S 891) Pressley singled out, filed by Sen. Patricia Jehlen, would revive a temporary state-level ban on evictions and foreclosures. Reps. Frank Moran and Kevin Honan filed a House version (H 1434), and 82 lawmakers had signed onto the bills ahead of a Housing Committee hearing earlier this month.

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