Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday defended his $171 million plan to mitigate the threat of evictions and foreclosures when the state's moratorium expires on Saturday, suggesting that if rental assistance proves to be insufficient he would "figure it out."
Baker on Monday released a plan developed with the courts that's designed to allow the state's eviction and foreclosure moratorium to expire without jeopardizing the housing stability of tens of thousands of residents.
In addition to providing help with access to housing attorneys and landlord-tenant mediation, the plan calls for a $100 million expansion of a rental voucher program that would provide families with a maximum benefit of $10,000, up from $4,000.
Housing advocates, however, criticized the funding as insufficient to meet the need, which has been estimated to be as many as 100,000 tenants and homeowners who will be unable to pay their rents or mortgages.
The longer he allowed the moratorium to stay in place "the deeper the hole would become that everybody would have to find a way out of," Baker said. "The uncertainty and the difficulty of continuing to just let that problem fester, from our point of view, was the wrong move at this time," he said.
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Baker said "nobody really knows" how many people will need rental assistance when the moratorium expires, but the administration relied on a range of estimates from experts to put the package together. "If it turns out it's more than we need, that's great. If it turns out it's less than we need, we'll figure it out," Baker said.
Housing Committee Chairman Rep. Kevin Honan, a Boston Democrat who has filed and advanced legislation to extend the moratorium through at least 2021, could not be reached for comment on the governor's plan.