Eviction Notice?

By Chris Wangler
June 20, 2023

A candidate for mayor is sponsoring a new city ordinance to provide additional resources to residents to help prevent evictions and foreclosures as housing costs spiral.

Ward 9 city councilor Jonathan Paz is an outspoken advocate for housing rights. But is he the right person to propose the new ordinance?

With a citizen input hearing set for Wednesday, a former roommate claims Paz and another roommate were part of a process to unfairly displace him from his South Side apartment in less than one day as COVID raged.

Meanwhile, a former landlord said Paz never paid her after he was evicted from a South Side apartment and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in unpaid rent.

“Information Is Key”

The proposed Housing Rights Notification Ordinance was first conceived back in 2021 by WATCH CDC, Waltham’s leading housing advocacy organization.

In its current form, it aims “to provide Waltham residents with resources and promote housing stability.”

“This information will help all residents to have assistance in times of crisis to pay for back rent, mortgages, utilities, food and pro-bono attorneys,” said Genoveva Tavera, the lead community organizer at WATCH.  

“We see more and more people lose their homes because they don’t know about these programs,” she said. “People are hungry, people are committing suicide because they don’t know how they are going to pay their bills.”

The ordinance requires landlords and foreclosing owners to provide “an up-to-date notice of basic housing rights and resources” at least 30 days in advance of eviction or foreclosure.  

The information would be provided in the language requested by the tenant, and the ordinance would be enforced by the Waltham Housing Division.

It is modeled on similar ordinances in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville implemented in recent years.


It might seem that landlords would oppose the additional red tape, but Tavera said it would actually benefit them by keeping tenants in place.

“In order to evict tenants, landlords must pay at least $5,000,” she said. “These programs would help landlords have their back rents paid and avoid the costs associated with evicting people.”

In recent months, supporters have jammed council meeting rooms to rally for the ordinance. A citizens’ input hearing was scheduled on the matter for June 21.

City councilor Jonathan Paz, a supporter of housing rights and affordable housing, is the lead sponsor of the ordinance. 

In May, he told the council that evictions statewide were creeping back up to pre-pandemic levels, nearly doubling over the last year. 

“This is an anti-displacement measure,” Paz said, adding that the ordinance would allow the city to work with a community group to develop an updated resource page to help residents stay in their homes.

Out in 15 Minutes

But Daniel Delgado said Jonathan Paz did not help him stay in their home in 2020 during the pandemic.

He claims that the recently elected city councilor played a leading role in his own lightning-quick displacement from their South Side rental property.

Back in July 2020, Delgado was a first-year doctoral student at Brandeis in musicology. 


Born in Boston but raised in Venezuela, the accomplished flute player lived at 109 Chestnut Street with two others and councilor Paz.

After some disagreements over cleanliness, Delgado admits that he was playing loud music and video games on July 8. 

Jonathan Paz hammered loudly on his door and yelled at him about the music around 3:00 a.m. Alarmed, Delgado called Waltham Police to de-escalate the situation.


No physical altercation had occurred, the responding officers concluded, and the roommates agreed the situation was over, according to a police report. Delgado went to bed.

But around 5:30 p.m. the same day, there was a loud knock on his door. Two Waltham Police officers told him he had 15 minutes to gather what he could and leave the property. "I obeyed the officers," he said. 

That morning, a Waltham District Court judge had granted Jonathan Paz and another roommate harassment prevention orders (HPOs) against Delgado. 


The conditions—no contact, staying 100 feet apart from both roommates and staying away from their residence—seemed to Delgado like a sped-up eviction, right in the middle of COVID. 

He would never live at 109 Chestnut Street again.

“How is this possible? How is this legal?” he wondered as he scrambled to rent a hotel room.


Similar to restraining orders, which involve family members, HPOs are civil orders designed to protect victims who are not related.

In his affidavit Paz wrote that Delgado in recent months “had a decline in mental health” and “he made threats directly against me and my life.” 

Delgado was “out of control,” Paz added. “I no longer feel safe living with Daniel.” The other roommate’s affidavit was similar, saying Delgado was “verbally violent” and harmed himself and struck walls. “I feel my life in danger after the threats of early morning,” he wrote.

“Absolutely false,” Delgado said of all the allegations made by both roommates. He denied that he threatened their lives or was a danger to himself or others due to mental illness.

“I have never been suicidal in my entire life,” he said.

Unable to afford an attorney, Delgado mounted his own legal defense, concluding that HPOs, while well-intentioned, “are ripe for exploitation.”


Another Waltham judge heard the opposing accounts of what happened during a 10-day hearing. He extended the HPOs for only six months instead of a year. 

Delgado believes the judge couldn’t throw out the orders because of the other roommates’ claims and tried to strike a compromise.

Along with being displaced, Delgado was out roughly $2,000, all told. He still can’t believe what happened to him.

HPOs carry collateral consequences that cannot be undone completely, even if a court were to determine they were issued wrongfully.

“For the rest of my life I will have an entry whenever someone does a background check,” Delgado said. That includes applying for leases and federal jobs.


He claims it has affected his application to bring his fiancée to Waltham from Venezuela on a K-1 Visa, which permits foreigners to travel to America to marry U.S. citizen sponsors.

So why didn’t Delgado retaliate or fight back? He said it’s not in his nature.

Instead, he’s speaking up about the “hypocrisy” of councilor Paz proposing an ordinance to notify tenants about resources in times of crisis. “He extended no such courtesy to me,” he said.

“My one regret is learning that the court system could be so easily manipulated,” Delgado said.

Heading into the fifth year of his PhD program, he plans to stay in Waltham, but he won’t be voting for his former city councilor roommate as he runs for mayor.

“Frankly, it’s terrifying,” Delgado said, reminded of corruption familiar from growing up in Venezuela. “He exemplifies low morals in high places.”

We wanted to hear Jonathan Paz’s side of the story, but he declined to comment for this story. 

Eviction Experience

“Out of town slumlords are coming for our campaign,” Jonathan Paz tweeted last week about the proposed housing notification ordinance, encouraging supporters to attend the citizen input hearing.

“We knew this was coming; our campaign is trying to build an affordable Waltham, something that would impact their bottom line,” he said.

Before he was elected to the city council in 2019, Paz lived in a run-down apartment off Felton Street.


When this photo was taken, in March 2018, he was helping to promote Breezers Ball, a fundraiser for community-oriented Waltham residents not originally from the city.

Around the same time, his landlord at 22 Browns Avenue initiated eviction proceedings against him for failing to pay $2,380 in rent.


Waltham District Court records show Paz was served with papers multiple times, starting in March and then again in July 2018.

In August, as the eviction court hearing approached, his Winchester landlord Wennan Xiong drafted a handwritten letter to prevent eviction, signed by both parties and accepted by the court.


But Xiong said Paz did not pay the back rent, as agreed. He then failed to attend the hearing on August 16 and was ordered by the court to pay more than $3,100.

She added that Paz also enabled a non-leased tenant to move in, causing further problems.


“Jonathan told me he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania,” Xiong said in retrospect. “He’s highly educated. That’s why I rented to him.”

Asked about additional resources and notification for tenants, she wondered why they are necessary with state laws she believes are already favorable to tenants.

Would additional resources have helped Jonathan Paz pay back rent and avert eviction, as the proposed housing ordinance aims to do?

We invited councilor Paz to comment, but again he declined.

Citizen Input Hearing

A citizen input hearing on the proposed housing notification ordinance is planned for Wednesday, June 21 at 6:30 p.m. in Government Center.

The hearing represents an important moment for Paz as he builds momentum for his mayoral campaign against five-term incumbent Jeannette McCarthy this fall.

Passing ordinances is a time-consuming process at the council, and this one faces a long path to approval.

But strong grassroots support for the ordinance reflects his commitment to those largely without voices in Waltham.

Since he helped organize a Latino Town Hall back in 2017, Paz has inspired those who believe that tenants should have more say in city government as Waltham becomes increasingly unaffordable.

The movement is having an impact on Waltham politics as renters enter election races this fall.

File photos