Letter from the Executive Director for June 2020: Fair and Equal Housing Guarantee

In May we continued our intensive work on a moratorium response. Regular readers will note the membership support both litigation and follow-up legislation, with legislation being the preferred first choice. To that end, we are working on enacting a statewide rent guarantee.

At our new member-facing page, Fair and Equal Housing Guarantee via Surety Bonds, we provide detailed steps members can take to help this effort. Participation has been good enough to take our Property Rights Supporter program to record participation. This combined with record membership and event participation has allowed us to add almost two full time equivalents to our budget.

We have also released the first results from our monthly rent collection survey. These two elements will serve as the foundation of our statewide campaign to enact surety.

Before that campaign begins, our full stack developer is adding needed payment functionality. Currently the Property Rights Supporter program takes credit card donations of predetermined amounts on a recurring basis. We will soon have the ability to take recurring and one-time donations of arbitrary amounts.

After our payment system is upgraded, we will launch our Fair and Equal Housing Guarantee website, the domains for which we have already purchased. This dedicated website will explain surety bonds in detail. The main idea is to guarantee that rents will be paid in the future, whatever COVID-19 and our response exacts on us in the meantime. This “deferred payment guarantee” is a highly desirable alternative to the wave of evictions we see coming, up to two full year’s caseload the week the moratorium expires. Surety bonds would also provide a centrist counterpoint to the marginal but loud movement calling for rent cancellation.

The work to build a coalition around surety continues. The only obstacle seems to be the notion that $50 million of RAFT funding is available and ought to be worked first. Despite RAFT’s role as a useful safety net, we have serious concerns with advocating for RAFT at this time, not the least of which is the state budget shortfall. Whereas RAFT would be money out the door now, surety would require little to no up-front cost. Surety is a guarantee that we can sort out post-pandemic. It would have an enormous stabilizing effect out of proportion to its immediate cash outlay.

Please let us know if there are organizations who should be included in our surety bond coalition. Email us at hello@masslandlords.net. Conversations are active and ongoing. And become a Property Rights Supporter.

Stay safe,
Douglas Quattrochi
Executive Director
MassLandlords, Inc.

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