“The pandemic has created financial challenges for many individuals and families who are struggling with rent payments,” Baker said in a statement. “This strategy has been designed to be user friendly and easily accessible for tenants and landlords in need.”

The move comes as Massachusetts’ strictest-in-the-nation ban on evictions is set to expire Saturday. That measure, which blocks nearly all evictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, has likely forestalled thousands of evictions since lawmakers passed it, as the state’s economy has shed more than 400,000 jobs since March. But it has drawn mounting complaints from landlords, who say it forces them to provide housing essentially for free, and the federal judge hearing a lawsuit challenging the ban said last month that he’d likely overturn it if it goes on much longer.

But the rental crisis, many housing advocates warn, is nowhere near over. And if Baker hopes to blunt it, they

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