BOSTON (WWLP) – A bill that’s been filed in two previous sessions, received a hearing last week, and housing advocates are optimistic about its journey this year.
This bill that would help those with an eviction record was first introduced in 2019 and has received support in the past by the House and the Senate. The HOMES Act would seal evictions from landlords, who could use those cases to deny housing to an applicant.
The proposal has been approved twice in the Senate and once by the full legislature. However, it was vetoed by then Governor Charlie Baker. This new HOMES Act differs from the one Baker Vetoed. This form of the bill would allow those with no-fault evictions to petition the court to seal their records after court action was finalized.
Senator Jake Oliveira who co-sponsored the bill, looks at rising rent, mortgage and interest rates as problems for renters. “They’re seeing sometimes double digit increases, percentage increases in their rent in a given year and that’s adding to the strain we’re facing and can lead to this greater homelessness,” Oliveira says. “Having the ability to pass the HOMES Act in this legislative session would add another tool in the toolbox to keep people housed.”
There are caveats in the bill for different types of evictions. Those who did not pay rent would not be able to have their records sealed for four years and those at fault could only petition after seven years. Opponents of the bill believe this doesn’t address the cause of the problem, would make it harder to study eviction data and would cause a “wave of hearings” with landlords.
Now Senator Jake Oliveira said he is hopeful that with a new governor in the corner office who has made a commitment to affordable housing that the Homes Act will be able to pass this session.