Legislation: Massachusetts pursuing statewide eviction right to counsel

03/01/2019, Legislation, Housing - Evictions

UPDATE: bills introduced, right to counsel campaign launched!


Three bills have been filed to provide a statewide right to counsel in eviction proceedings: H.1537, H.3456, and S.913.


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 WGBHCurbed, 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.


Background


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.

 

The housing right to counsel bill was filed as HB 968 and SB 831.  Another bill, HB 3589 by Rep. Rogers, would establish a similar right.


See our bills tracking page for updates on this bill.

 

Nccrc_involvement_icon

The NCCRC has supported the efforts of the statewide coalition.