Housing Direct Client Services
GBLS Housing Unit advocates handle more than 3,000 individual cases every year. Below are our main areas of direct client services.
Preserving and Gaining Access to Affordable Housing for Low Income Populations
GBLS staff works to protect Section 8 subsidies for the most vulnerable tenants.
Tenants experiencing difficulty in using Section 8 vouchers or state tenant-based subsidies are more likely to be tenants of color and Latino. Housing Unit advocates represent applicants for public and assisted housing at administrative hearings and, at times, in court.
Helping Homeless Familes Gain Access to Emergency Shelter
We represent homeless families and assist them in gaining admission into Emergency Assistance (EA) funded shelter and defend families threatened with eviction from shelters. All such cases are treated as emergencies and every such case that comes in to GBLS in our service area receives some level of assistance.
Our informal advocacy efforts with the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) are largely successful in meritorious cases.
GBLS prioritizes the representation of public and subsidized housing residents within the city of Boston. We focus on the cases where we can be a “game changer” – cases where we are able to intervene at a critical time to save a tenancy, or where we can help a family overcome a temporary emergency and stabilize their tenancy.
Eviction defense is a significant full-representation area for the GBLS Housing Unit. We appear every week in the Boston Housing Court and the Chelsea District Court. We take cases in Quincy District Court, Malden District Court and other district courts in our geographic service area when needed. GBLS’ Housing unit provides full representation with an eye toward legal reform and larger-scale change in its eviction defense work.
To assist those individuas who must appear in court pro se, GBLS, together with volunteers from the private bar, staffs a Tenant Assistance Table" every Thursday at the Boston Housing Court. Trained staff greet tenants facing eviction and: explain the law and their legal rights; assist them in preparing paperwork and documentation; prepare them for mediation; and coach them in courtroom procedure.
In addition, GBLS offers an onsite housing clinic on Mondays each week which educates tenants about their rights in the face in of eviction proceedings.The clinic allows staff to assist many tenants complete paperwork and legal documentation in advance of a court hearing.
Representing Tenants and Former Owners in Foreclosed Properties
Our direct services work includes one-on-one counseling at weekly bank tenants meetings in Boston, East Boston and Chelsea; full representation of tenants and former owners in court; on-the-day-of-court representation of all post-foreclosure tenants and former owners; and clinical programs for groups.
Our housing attorneys aim to prevent the displacement of tenants and former owners after foreclosure, including providing legal assistance to provide affordable purchasing options for tenants and former owners after foreclosure.
Housing Unit attorneys use the Boston Housing Court’s 'Attorney of the Day' project and the 'SUN Initiative' of Boston Community Capital (BCC) to help former owners repurchase their homes at their present value.
Advocacy in the Courts for Survivors of Domestic Violence
The Housing Unit's domestic violence housing work bridges a lot of different areas—from priority and screening practices in public/assisted housing admissions, to eviction defense and Section 8 terminations, and to transfer/mobility issues where a family cannot safely remain in its current housing.