Congressman Joseph Kennedy III along with members of the House Delegation have authored a letter to Governor Charlie Baker to establish a statewide right-to-counsel pilot program for low-income residents facing eviction at some point this Summer.
Housing advocates warn of an “eviction tsunami” that could take place later this season.
“On August 18, 2020, when the current statewide eviction moratorium is set to expire, an estimated 15,000 households will face eviction,” wrote the lawmakers. “As you consider allocating the federal assistance provided to the Commonwealth pursuant to the CARES Act, we urge your support for programs that would provide families facing eviction with access to legal counsel.”
The Mass House Delegation is asking the Baker Administration to allocate six million dollars in CARES Act funding to launch a program providing legal representation to owner occupants and tenants involved in eviction proceedings whose income does not exceed 200 percent of the poverty line.
“Such a program would ensure equal justice under the law does not depend on income level, help families continue to practice social distancing by staying in their homes, and save money,” the letter continued.
It's estimated that nearly 5,000 Commonwealth residents could use the assistance depending on where the programs are located.
In the letter it states, “This pilot could help approximately 4,800 households if funded at the requested level. Factors such as poverty rate, COVID-19 infection rate, concentration of people of color, unemployment rate, and concentration of renters would be used to determine the location of the pilot programs and at least two programs would be located in each of the Housing Court’s six divisions.”