Municipal Leaders Urge State Legislators To Start State-Wide Right To Counsel in Eviction Cases Program

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In full transparency, the following is a press release submitted to SOURCE media from Metrowest Legal Services.


FRAMINGHAM – Municipal leaders from across the Commonwealth are urging state legislators allocating American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to start a statewide right to counsel in eviction cases program.

“Housing is a critical issue and a social determinant of our community’s collective and
individual health, especially during a pandemic,” said Framingham Mayor Yvonne Spicer.
“Far too many of our households here in Framingham and elsewhere in the Commonwealth
are rent burdened. The City has put up federal funds to alleviate this issue by running a
pandemic rental relief program, but cannot tackle this alone, especially in light of the end of
the federal eviction moratorium.”

Over the past year, MetroWest Legal Services has been part of a special legal help project to
help tenants during the pandemic called the COVID Eviction Legal Help Project. 

“We are grateful for the Governor’s leadership in funding CELHP as part of the Eviction Diversion Initiative,” said Executive Director Betsy Soule. “CELHP has produced transformative results with 90% of closed cases resulting in a successful outcome. But CELHP ends on December 31, 2021 and the need for a right to counsel program continues and has now become more urgent.” 

“The State has an opportunity to contribute by using part of its ARPA allocation towards
addressing our housing crisis and, given the positive outcomes seen in the Commonwealth’s
temporary program, this should include right to counsel programming,” said Mayor Spicer.

The Edward M. Kennedy Community Health Center has joined with health care providers
across the state to submit testimony urging the legislature to start a right to counsel with
ARPA funding stating: “Now more than ever with dominance of the Delta variant and the start
of the school year, public health and housing stability are inextricably intertwined.”

Properties owner have joined together to support right to counsel stating: “A right to counsel
program is a piece of a comprehensive response to avoid displacement and increase housingstability, which Massachusetts should adopt to level the playing field and address the inequity of representation.”

In June, Connecticut passed a statewide right to counsel program and funded it with ARPA
dollars over the next two years while a permanent source of funding was located. In August,
the U.S. Department of Treasury, the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Department of
Housing jointly issued an urgent statement calling for states to use federal recovery funds to
launch right to counsel programs.


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