By Anoushka Dalmia
BU News Service
Around 50 people marched Wednesday to Gov. Charlie Baker’s house in Swampscott in protest of anticipated evictions and foreclosures after Oct. 17, when the moratorium on evictions in Massachusetts is set to end.
The rally, organized by Homes for All Massachusetts, New England United for Justice, Lynn United for Change and City Life/Vida Urbana, among others, called for Baker to support and sign the Housing Stability Bill. Organizers said as many as 100,000 households would be in danger if the state moratorium ended without legislation in place.
Baker announced his own rental relief program on Monday, which organizers said will not be enough to protect vulnerable groups. Under the Homes For All coalition, advocacy groups and community organizers around the state have been taking action all week through virtual and physical rallies and phone banking.
The socially-distanced crowd gathered at Red Rock Park in Lynn and marched toward Baker’s house in Swampscott. Before the march began, organizers stressed its non-violent nature.
Multiple speakers recognized the intersectionality of the eviction crisis.
“This is a health issue, this is a justice issue, this is a racial issue,” said Noemi “Mimi” Ramos from New England United for Justice.
Addressing Baker directly, Ramos said, “We’re here to ask a direct question – whose side are you on, Baker? The side of the renters, homeowners, families and our communities, or on the side of the big boys with the big bucks? We need you to step up. Pass the Act now!”
Andres Del Castillo, an organizer with Right To The City, spoke of the effect an eviction would have during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Our home is our school; our home is our job, our home is our shelter, our home is where we quarantine,” he said. “So, what are we supposed to do if you put us out on the street?”
Castillo also talked about frontline workers bearing the brunt of the pandemic.
“Our people got sick because we work because this country runs on us,” he said. “Because it runs on us, it ran through us, and we will not allow that.”
Lynn teacher Davia Moore spoke to the crowd about students’ additional difficulties in uncertain housing situations.
“We cannot teach our students if their caretakers have to make the hard decision between paying rent or paying for phone data, which gives them access to their education,” she said.
With no sign of a response from the governor, Ramos called out to Baker and said, “Governor – you’re comfortable in your house with your family. We deserve the same.”
Participants carried a placard with a pledge to the house’s steps but were prevented from entering the governor’s property by police officials. A request to deliver the pledge inside was denied.
With a rendition of “We shall not be moved,” the protest came to an end at 7 p.m. and participants scattered, with a promise to be back.