LEWISTON — Mayor Mark Cayer is asking landlords to pause evictions and take other steps to protect housing stability as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.

In a news release Monday, Cayer said that due to emergency measures in response to the virus, more and more residents are finding themselves unemployed and without income.

“Housing is an essential resource and, like our public utilities, it cannot be shut off during this time of need,” he said.

A list of guidelines issued by Cayer includes halting foreclosures, evictions or threats of eviction during the state of emergency and for the “first 90 days of recovery, except where such actions must be taken as a matter of personal and physical safety.”

He said no one should incur accrued interest, late fees, or new debt from rent or home mortgages in order to remain in their homes during the crisis.

“Creditors and landlords must do everything in their power to keep people housed as we work to contain the virus and reduce the rate of infection,” he said. “We must commit to the same principles during recovery, when households will likely remain in vulnerable economic circumstances.

At the same time, he said, homeowners and tenants should be communicating with mortgage holders or landlords if they are unable to make scheduled payments and to explore payment arrangements or deferrals with them. They are also urged to utilize public resources that they may qualify for to assist them in maintaining housing, he said.

“Lastly, our local, state, and federal government must increase efforts to ensure our people are housed safely and affordably,” he said. “That means making assistance programs easy to access remotely during this period of social distancing.”

Lewiston is offering loan forbearance to residential borrowers, property tax extensions to property owners, and General Assistance to assist those with limited income in maintaining housing.

“I call on other communities and policymakers across the state to promote these values and guidelines,” he said. “We are in this together, and I thank everyone for your support during this challenging time.”

Amy Smith, a Lewiston landlord, said Monday that the mayor’s recommendations are “the right approach.” Through her work with Healthy Neighborhoods, Smith and the organization have released a resource for landlords and renters that provides relief advice.


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