Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jul. 20, 2017
Image for Housing
In May 2017, MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano (far left) testified before the Judiciary Committee on the Housing Court expansion with the Boston Bar Association and the Access to Justice Commission.

FY18 State Budget in place

On Monday, July 17, Governor Charlie D. Baker signed the FY18 budget. Included in the budget document was a long sought provision to expand the jurisdiction of the Housing Court.

"This expansion of the Housing Courts to the rest of the commonwealth represents a monumental achievement by dedicated advocates, judges, legislators and the Governor," said MBA President Jeffrey N. Catalano. "The MBA is so proud to have been a big part of this team in successfully advocating for the expansion and its funding," he continued. President Catalano took a personal interest in the plight of the Housing Court and made it one of his top legislative priorities through actively engaging with legislative and judicial leadership on the measure. He recently wrote an article in the MBA Lawyers Journal forcefully advocating for funding and explaining the many benefits of Housing Court.

The Housing Court was created to provide a legal venue for landlords and tenants with expertise in housing. The Housing Court judges have the expertise to navigate through complicated local, state and federal housing laws. The court is set up to focus specifically on housing issues. The Housing Court is efficient, user friendly, reduces homelessness and increases public safety. Currently, two million citizens in Massachusetts who reside in Barnstable, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, Dukes and Nantucket counties are without access to a housing court. "We will now have more judges and courts to ensure a fair process for tenants and landlords and to protect many citizens' fundamental need for shelter," said Catalano.

MLAC

The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation was level funded at $18 million for fiscal year 2018. MLAC was on track to receive a much needed additional $2 million in funding for FY18, however Massachusetts tax revenue collections are set to fall $99 million short of previous expectations. MLAC and several other budget accounts were trimmed by the House and Senate Conference Committee and Gov. Baker.

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