From Homes For All Massachusetts:
Send a message before the end of the day today, Monday, Nov 23rd. Use our easy tool to send an email or make a call (the tool has been updated to target a new message to members of the Conference Committee, so please email or call even if you’ve done so before).
The State Senate did NOT include the Housing Stability amendments in their budget this week. That’s a disappointment, and it means that for the time being, the legislature won’t even hold a vote on the strong, clear protections against eviction and foreclosure that we really need.
However, thanks in part to pressure from Homes for All Mass and other groups across the state, there are some concessions to tenant protections in the Senate version of the budget. A committee is now deciding whether those concessions will make it into the final budget, and that’s why we need you to send an email or make a call now.
Note: we do NOT believe the anti-eviction measures still under consideration are adequate, but we do believe they will help some tenants and provide useful tools as we move to a new phase of the struggle against mass evictions and foreclosures. Please take action to support those measures, see the statement below for details… and keep in mind that the lack of real democracy at the State House is part of the problem.
The legislative fight will resume in the future, but in the coming weeks the battle to stop mass foreclosures and evictions moves to the grassroots. Please share the flyers and links at the end of this message.
OUR STATEMENT ON THE FY2021 BUDGET:
The House and Senate have finalized their FY2021 budget proposals, and a conference committee has been appointed to resolve the differences and present a single budget.
We are disappointed and frustrated that neither of the proposed budgets include the Housing Stability amendments and the strong, clear protections against eviction and foreclosure that our communities need. We are deeply concerned about the increase in informal and formal evictions and foreclosure activity that we have seen over the past few weeks. It is especially troubling to see displacement pressure ramp up just as communities across the state are confronting drastic increases in COVID-19 cases. We will continue to fight for real protection for renters and homeowners as a matter of justice, equity, and public health.
In the meantime we strongly urge inclusion of the following budget provisions: Senate Outside Sections 47, 48, and 49 and Senate Amendments 336 and 389. We do not believe these provisions alone are adequate, but we do believe they will make an important difference for some tenants and provide valuable data as we continue to work on more comprehensive solutions. The conference committee is expected to work quickly – perhaps in a few days’ time – so it is important to act now to keep these housing protections in the final budget.
We urge the conference committee to maintain the following provisions:
– Senate Outside Section 47, Coronavirus Emergency Notices to Quit. This provision will ensure that tenants receive critical information with the “notice to quit” letter landlords must send prior to filing an eviction case. These notices can be confusing and intimidating, and this provision will ensure the notices make clear that the tenant has legal rights, and provides information about relevant protections as well as rental assistance information. It will also provide important data about notices to quit statewide which will help guide housing policy and direct resources where they are most needed.
– Senate Outside Section 48, Coronavirus Emergency Eviction Continuances. This provision will ensure that tenants who are in the eviction process in court, who have been affected by COVID-19, and who have request rental assistance, be given a continuance of the court case to process the application, and that the court not enter judgment in the case until a decision on the application has been reached. The court will also be required to provide some data on these continuances.
– Senate Outside Section 49, Eviction Diversion Initiative Data Collection. This provision will require the administration and courts to provide data about evictions, notices to quit, rental assistance, and other Eviction Diversion Initiative programs, including numbers and types of cases filed, case outcomes, numbers of rental and mortgage assistance applications and outcomes, amount of funds awarded, time between application and decision, information related to hiring for programs, and other program data.
– Senate Amendment 336, Ensuring Housing Protections During COVID-19. This amendment will amend Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) line item (7004-9316) to simplify the application process. It will also provide for certain eviction records to be shielded from the public database, ensuring that parties in these cases are not unduly prejudiced by having an eviction record, which can severely impair prospects for future housing. It also creates a task force to make recommendations relative to the Eviction Diversion Initiative.
– Senate Amendment 389, Ensuring Access to All Forms of Rental Assistance. This technical amendment to Senate Outside Section 48 will ensure that tenants who have sought all forms of rental assistance benefit from the court protections, not only those seeking Rental Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) assistance.
Keep spreading the word with members, clients, friends, neighbors: if you are behind on rent or threatened with eviction, do NOT move.
Let people know they can reach out, get help, and connect with the movement. Share the flyers above and share this help page, which also includes contact info for local groups and resources to help tenants, homeowners, and advocates prevent eviction and foreclosure (Spanish help page here).
If you want a localized version of these flyers please reach out and let us know.
Homes For All Massachusetts, www.homesforallmass.org
From Boston City Council:
National School Psychologist Week
School psychologists provide critical social and emotional services by providing direct support and responding to the mental health needs of students. In the Boston Public Schools, 76% of the student population are categorized as high needs and require social emotional support specialists.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a collective traumatic experience for everyone, including students, and has uniquely personal consequences for a person’s mental health. Throughout the pandemic, schools psychologists continue to work tirelessly to respond to the mental health needs of students, often working all hours of the day to respond to calls, texts, or emails from kids struggling with the transition to remote learning.
This week, the Council celebrated all of the school psychologists in the Boston Public Schools with an adopted resolution and recognized November 9-13, 2020 as National School Psychologist Week in the City of Boston.
November is National Homeless
Youth Awareness Month
Boston’s homeless YYA are 40-58% Black, 21-35% Latinx, and 25-29% identify as LGBTQ. Approximately, 32-47% of Boston’s homeless YYA reported being detained in either the juvenile or adult justice system, 31-39% reported that they had been placed in foster care, while 22% reported experiences with both systems.
There are many organizations that work with Boston’s homeless YYA, including Bridge Over Troubled Waters, Y2Y, Home for Little Wanderers, Roca, More Than Words, BAGLY, Boston CASA, and the Boston Public Schools Homeless Education Resource Network and Re-Engagement Center.
During this week’s Council meeting, the Council adopted a resolution recognizing November as National Homeless Youth Awareness Month. The City Council commends the Boston Youth Action Board for their work thus far to prevent and end unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness.