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.
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.
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.