Landlords Say Eviction “Wave” Should Pass Franklin

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After a more than a year of a prohibition on evictions by state and federal government, the “final” extension is set to expire on Saturday, July 31 – and activists have warned of a wave of coming evictions, likely to be followed by an uptick in homelessness.

But for Franklin, at least, the wave looks like it may be little more than a ripple.

Richard Henken, President of the Schochet Companies, a real estate development and management organization based in Braintree, that owns the Glen Meadows apartments in Franklin, says “We have been both very fortunate and very proactive.”

“Compared to many of our peers we have a very limited number of folks who have gotten into any trouble at all with rent payments,” he explains. In fact, he added, out of 288 units in the complex, only eight are more than two months in arrears.

Henken said it helps that his organization specializes in owning and operating affordable housing. “We have a lot of experience working with residents to preserve tenancy; it is something we do as a matter of course,” he added. In practice, that means staying in touch with tenants and guiding them to sources of help when possible. Sometimes, he noted, for example at a property his company owns in Orange, MA, issuing an eviction notice was the only way to trigger state assistance for a tenant.

In Franklin, Henken said tenants “are generally fine” because under affordability guidelines, they are only required to pay 30 percent of their income in rent and the government makes up the difference. So, if someone’s income drops, for example due to unemployment, their payments decline as well.

On a smaller scale, Joel D’Errico, a local landlord, said he has avoided problems for years – including through the pandemic – by vetting tenants and looking for people with reliable track records. “In 20 years, I have only had to do one eviction,” he said. At the moment, all his tenants are up-to-date.

And, for its part, Lisa M. Audette, Franklin Housing Authority Agent, says tenants in their units are mostly current with payments. The Franklin Housing Authority manages 161 units of State Aided Elderly/Disabled Housing, 33 units of low-income Family Housing and an eight-unit Group Home. The Authority take care of a four-bedroom congregate facility providing a shared living environment for “residents who are self-reliant” but “however, may need limited support,” according to the organization web site. The Authority also owns two single-family homes in town.

Town Councilor Andrew Bissanti also pointed out that any individuals that are facing eviction are not likely to face that fate soon. “Anyone in the eviction process right now is probably looking at 6 to 9 months of free rent because the courts are so backed up; they are going to begin to be flooded with follow-up by the landlords.”

“We are a medium-size landlord but my heart goes out to people who own a triple-decker or a four-family, and have their entire life savings tied up in that investment,” Henken added. “It is up to the Governor, not me, to be Solomonic, but those people need consideration, too,” he said.

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