Eviction Prevention in Boston
Additional Tenant Protection & AfforBills in 2019-20
Protect tenants from unfair stigma and permanent eviction records. Support An Act promoting housing opportunity and mobility through eviction sealing
Last year, over 6,100 eviction cases were filed in the Boston. Reserach suggests that the number of eviction cases filed dramatically undercounts the extent to which poor families facing an eviction notice move before a court case is even filed. Families of color, households with children, and households headed by women are disproportionately impacted by evictions.
Trauma of Eviction
The trauma of eviction is devastating. Losing a home or one’s housing subsidy sends families into shelters, cars, abandoned houses, and onto the streets. It invites depression and illness, compels families to move into degrading and unsafe housing, spirals into job loss, and uproots entire neighborhoods.
This trauma can be prevented.
Majority of Tenants Are Unrepresented
Last year, in the Boston Housing Court, 92% of the tenants facing eviction had no legal representation. Despite the efforts of judges and court staff, the high number of tenants without lawyers creates a process that is fundamentally unfair. Tenants without lawyers sign move-out agreements that they don’t understand. Tenants who have lawyers are able to stabilize their housing and preserve their tenancy.
What Having a Lawyer Can do
Civil legal aid keeps families from homelessness, helps families stay together, and in the best circumstances provides a bridge out of poverty. Legal advocacy is part of the solution, and together with the social service network, community organizers, health care providers and the tenants themselves, it’s possible to keep people housed and prevent homelessness.
Boston Eviction Defense
Boston is fortunate to have well respected legal aid organizations with expertise in eviction defense that stand ready to provide legal support. Many already work with community organizations. Eviction defense is necessary to prevent lower-income tenants facing eviction from facing homelessness and housing insecurity.
Right to Counsel
Last year, New York City became the first city to create a right to counsel in eviction cases providing significant funding to accomplish this. As a result, representation of tenants increased from 1% to 27%, and evictions by city marshals dropped by 24%.
This year, San Francisco passed an ordinance declaring that it is a Right to Counsel city and other cities including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Denver are dedicating funding for eviction defense.
Initial studies from New York showed that for every $1 invested in eviction defense,the state saved $5 or 6 dollars. More recent studies are showing that the savings are $10 for every $1 spent. Costs saved include emergency shelters, public health care system, homeless children entering the foster care system, and increased costs associated with police and policing activities. But the costs extend far beyond this because the cost to families is housing instability that can last years.