Photo by Ben Ewen-Campen
“The time has come for evictions to end for good in Somerville!”
The Eviction Response Network is fighting for a Somerville freed from the violence that is eviction. We are Somerville tenants, workers, homeowners, and allies against eviction and united by the belief that housing is a human right. It is obscene to put profit over a human’s need to have a home. It is obscene to put profit over a human’s ties to their community. All too many Somerville residents have been displaced from our community by eviction, and the time has come for this to end.
From the standpoint of efficiently allocating housing resources, eviction serves no purpose but to inflict harm. With more than 20 empty housing units for each person experiencing homelessness, our society is abundant with resources to provide homes for all. But commodification of housing has allowed eviction to become a tool for real estate capital and gentrification. This is a policy choice we have made that prioritizes profit over people. There’s no reason why anyone would want to force more people out of their homes other than greed or malice. Every evicted person who ends up suffering the privations of homelessness is another casualty of real estate capital’s driving need for wealth extraction. Real estate capital needs to make examples of some tenants to maintain its power over the rest—for the sake of their greed, to make the already rich even richer, while making the poor even poorer.
Evictions also disproportionately victimize people of color. Boston trial court data found “that from Feb. 28, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021, evictions were filed at more than twice the rate in neighborhoods where a majority of renters are people of color than in neighborhoods where most renters are white.”
The result? Grave stress, trauma, and danger for the evicted, and an increasingly onerous rent burden placed on those lucky enough to escape that fate.
As pandemic-related legal protections fall away, such as the CDC order which expires June 30, an even worse-than-usual eviction crisis threatens to overtake our state. National Equity Atlas estimates that 91,000 Massachusetts households are behind on rent. Since the start of the COVID-19 state of emergency 462 days ago, 97 evictions have been filed in Somerville due to non-payment of rent. And while Mayor Curtatone’s decision to extend Somerville’s ban on physical evictions 90 days beyond today’s end of the Massachusetts state of emergency constitutes a very small step in the right direction, it isn’t nearly enough. We are calling for a full 12-month extension of the city of Somerville eviction moratorium so that every tenant and household has the chance at a full and equitable recovery from this pandemic.
Our movement doesn’t stop with the pandemic—the time has come for evictions to end for good in Somerville! That’s why the Eviction Response Network is working to fight eviction by building community power, disrupting ‘business as usual’ for the eviction process, and demanding more of our elected officials. Join us in fighting for a Somerville where the violence of eviction is obsolete and everyone has the right to remain in our city.
Sign up for the Eviction Response Network here.
Michael Ventura is a member of the Eviction Response Network