Massachusetts legislation would establish statewide eviction right to counsel
11/05/2019, Legislation, Housing - Evictions
UPDATE: Chief Justice Gants and Boston Globe endorse eviction right to counsel bill
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph Gants has endorsed the eviction right to counsel bill. The Human Rights at Home Blog has more. The Boston Globe Editorial Board has done so as well, saying that "The right to a court-appointed lawyer would level the playing field and offer [tenants] a better chance of success at staying in their homes."
UPDATE: Brockton Enterprise reports on bill status
The Brockton Enterprise gave an update on advocacy around the Massachusetts right to counsel bills, inclduing some comments from legislators in both chambers.
UPDATE: Bills get public hearing, city support
On July 16, 2019, the Massachusetts Joint Judiciary Committee held a standing-room-only public hearing on the eviction right to counsel bills. Among those who testified in support of the bills was Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. The NCCRC submitted testimony as well. Masslive has more about the public hearing.
Additionally, the City of Northampton passed a resolution in support of the bills.
UPDATE: bills introduced, right to counsel campaign launched!
Advocates in Massachusetts have launched a campaign to enact a right to counsel in eviction proceedings, and have just released a campaign website. The campaign has received media coverage from WGBH, Curbed, and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. There was also a follow-up piece from WGBH that put the right to counsel in context of Boston's sky-high rents and unven court playing field.
In January 2017, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced a 5-bill package to be submitted to the State Legislature to help with tenant displacement. One of the bills, An Act to Promote Homelessness Prevention in Massachusetts, would require a court to appoint the public defender to represent indigent tenants in eviction proceedings. The Mayor’s Announcement notes that "Currently, only seven percent of tenants brought to Boston Housing Court receive some type of legal assistance while a majority of landlords have representation.” WBUR in Boston has more.
See our bills tracking page for updates on this bill.
The NCCRC has supported the efforts of the statewide coalition.