WALTHAM – When the Biden administration announced June 24 it would extend the moratorium on evictions for 30 days, it was welcome news to an organization dedicated to helping Jewish families, children, and older adults in need.
“Yes, it is great news to have it extended,” said Meredith Joy, director of community services for Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Waltham. “Since renters who have accrued arrears will be fully responsible for their unpaid rent when the moratorium is lifted, we encourage people in the Jewish community to get in touch with us sooner rather than later.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last week the federal moratorium on evictions that was supposed to expire on June 30 has been extended through July 31, though the agency said this will probably be the last time the order will be stretched. In a statement, the CDC said “Keeping people in their homes and out of crowded or congregate settings – like homeless shelters – by preventing evictions is a key step in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19.”
JF&CS officials are concerned about what may happen when this and other pandemic supports end.
“Some people are going to suffer these cliff effects or be responsible for payments they weren’t able to make,” Joy said.
The nonprofit, which serves the Jewish community in more than 100 towns, is trying to get the word out about emergency financial assistance it has available along with resources from the state.
Joy said there are significant funds available thanks to the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Greater Boston.
Sarah Abramson, senior vice president of CJP’s Strategy and Impact, said in an email “CJP raised over $3 million in a COVID emergency fund, working swiftly to distribute these resources urgently to our partners doing life changing work – in Boston, in Israel, and elsewhere around the world.”
As the eviction moratorium continues, “We can work with people to make a plan for managing their arrears and working with their landlord,” said Joy, who noted calls to JF&CS for assistance quadrupled during the pandemic.
For instance, the moratorium on residential electric and gas shutoffs runs through July 1. While residents who had trouble paying their utility bills were protected from having their service shut off during this moratorium, they are still responsible for back bills.
Joy said the agency has relationships with electric and gas utilities and can help negotiate payment plans for residents.
Joy also noted that enhanced pandemic unemployment benefits expire on Sept. 4.
In addition, a 15 percent boost in benefits under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which was formerly referred to as food stamps, also will end in September.
During the pandemic, the agency worked with people of all ages, including older adults and families. Some who sought assistance were self-employed or worked in industries that were shut down by the pandemic, including those in the food service industry, ride-hailing drivers, hair stylists, and those whose employment was tied to large, in-person events.
Joy said JF&CS also offers something called the Hebrew Free Loan, a zero-interest loan that can be used for a variety of circumstances, including debt consolidation, the purchasing of a car, home repairs, bar and bat mitzvah expenses, and Jewish life cycle events. One person used the loan to pay for first and last month’s rent and security deposit.
Those who want to learn more can call the intake line at 781-693-1388, Joy said. Calls are answered directly or they are returned within 24 hours. To see if you are eligible for SNAP assistance, email SNAPhelp@jfcsboston.org. You can also email email@example.com for more information.