Walsh Provides Reopening Update, Announces Additional $5 Million for Rental Relief Fund

On May 28, Mayor Walsh gave an update on the coronavirus and Boston’s reopening plan. On June 1, office buildings were allowed to reopen in Boston at 25 percent capacity, and employers were encouraged to have employees work from home wherever possible as well as stagger the workday so as to not overwhelm the transportation system. 

Office buildings in the rest of the state were permitted to reopen on May 25, but Walsh said at last Thursday’s press conference that Boston waited a week because “we wanted employers, landlords, and building managers to have time to create a plan.”

The City has created a document with guidelines for office buildings, which has been published on the City of Boston website.

Walsh warned that these guidelines and protocols “have to be managed on an ongoing basis,” as the there will be “nothing close to old routines until vaccine or treatment is made available.”  He urged those who can continue to work from home to do so.

Walsh said these steps are also being taken at City Hall, which is now open by appointment only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Visitors will have their temperatures taken upon arrival and a mask must be worn inside the building. City Hall was also open on Monday, June 1 for the extended property tax deadline, though the department preferred to take payments online or over the phone, Walsh said.

Other measures the City is taking as the state begins to reopen include increasing space on bus stops at bus routes, putting in new bus lanes on Washington St. and Essex St. through Chinatown, and increasing bike lanes connecting downtown, Back Bay, and the South End.

Walsh said that 264 establishments in Boston have expressed interest in using parking lanes or sidewalks for outdoor restaurant space. He said that the City is ready to help those businesses with these requests wherever possible.

He said this would be a pilot program, but mentioned that it has worked well in European cities.

On June 3, Walsh announced the reopening of the Rental Relief Fund application process, which will begin on June 5 at noon and will be available in seven different languages. The Fund, which began with $3 million in April now has an additional $5 million in funding.

“The Rental Relief Fund was established by Mayor Walsh as a means to provide income-eligible tenants in the City of Boston with direct financial relief to assist with rental payments,” according to a release from the City.

“During this challenging time, it is important that we leverage all resources available to ensure the health and safety of our residents, and to keep them stably housed during the COVID-19 public health crisis,” Mayor Walsh said in a statement. “We know that many Bostonians are struggling, and we know the need for assistance with housing payments remains, which is why we are proud to make available this additional funding for households who otherwise would be unable to make their rent payments.”

Preference will be given to applicants who are ineligible for unemployment benefits or who cannot receive full benefits because of the nature of their jobs. For more information and to apply, visit boston.gov/rentalrelief.

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