We have another cause for big thanks to all 6 of our Western MA Senators for their advocacy in support of Right to Counsel in this letter to the Senate Housing Committee Chair John Keenan and Senate President Karen Spilka. Senator Adam Hinds led the effort which was quickly joined by all his colleagues, Senators Jo Comerford, Anne Gobi, Adam Gomez, Eric Lesser and John Velis.
As the Senators’ letter states:
We are writing to urge your support of the favorable report from the Housing Committee on S.874, An Act promoting housing stability and homelessness prevention in Massachusetts. We are writing on behalf of our constituents across all four western counties, including over 150 partners from the Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness, who have made clear the urgent need for action on this bill.
COVID has exposed deep inequities in the eviction system. As the Senate Reimagining the Future of
Massachusetts report states, it is time to bring a “new approach to evictions,” and “to ensure a fairer process, Massachusetts should guarantee tenants a right to counsel…”
We agree. Now is the time for a right to counsel program in Massachusetts.
As of mid-December, over 100,000 households in Massachusetts reported that they were very or somewhat likely to be evicted in the next two months. Most of these households consist of people of color and those with children. The toll of eviction is devastating on all but particularly on those with mental health challenges, where often the cause of the eviction is related to the mental health condition itself.
The Joint Housing Committee must issue a favorable report by Wed., Feb. 2 in order for the bill to advance this Legislative Session which ends on July 31.
This regional action is providing a model for other legislative advocacy across the state. Thank you, Senators, for once again leading the way!
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Senator with a quick note of thanks (find their email address here). We need to keep pushing, and it means so much to have our legislative partners out there with us.