Editorial 10-14-2020

Rental relief program is a win-win

The announcement by Gov. Charlie Baker on Monday of a $171 million package of programs that will help renters stay in their homes comes as welcome news for both tenants and landlords alike.

Housing insecurity never is a good thing both for individuals and society-at-large, but that is especially true amidst a pandemic, when overcrowded shelters could become a breeding ground for the coronavirus.

With the state’s moratorium on evictions set to expire at the end of this week, the need to provide relief for renters, many of whom have been affected by the decline in the need for their services in the hospitality industry (hotels, restaurants, and travel), is immediate and necessary to avoid a societal and humane catastrophe for tens of thousands of families across the Commonwealth.

The governor’s plan also comes as good news for landlords for whom evicting a tenant for non-payment always is a last resort. Although the big real estate companies that  own and manage thousands of apartments probably could get by with an increase in defaults on rents, the small landlords, who have just a few apartments and who need the monthly rent in order to pay their mortgages, would be facing financial disaster without a relief package.

Although some may question whether the $171 million is enough to get everybody to the other side of the pandemic — and quite frankly, it probably won’t be — it nonetheless is a good start that can be supplemented as circumstances warrant in the future.

Gov. Baker’s rental relief program comes as good news for all of us. We trust the legislature will join in, and perhaps even augment, what  the governor has proposed.

Mask up as we approach winter

The wonderful weather we enjoyed for much of this past weekend certainly was welcome as we approach the darker and colder days that lie ahead.

However, make no mistake about it: Winter is coming, and so is the need for all of us to be extra-vigilant about taking precautions to ensure the health and safety of ourselves and our loved ones in the months ahead.

This means that wearing masks, not gathering in large groups, and always maintaining physical distancing become crucial measures that all of us easily can follow in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus.

We were struck by a statistic from the CDC that we saw the other day concerning the state of Arizona. COVID-19 cases in Arizona spiked 151% after a statewide stay-at-home order expired, but then dropped precipitously by 75% after local mask mandates were put into effect.

Each of us has the ability to stay safe amidst a pandemic if we just follow a few simple rules — wearing masks, avoiding crowds, washing our hands frequently, and staying at least six feet apart from others when out in public.

Admittedly, this is not an ideal way to lead our lives. But with 215,000 of our fellow Americans already dead, the only way we can avoid doubling that number in the months ahead is if we adhere to these common-sense measures at all times.

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