Last week Senator Lydia Edwards kicked off her Community Transition Committee through a virtual meeting to discuss housing. After being sworn in Edwards asks residents to advise her on constituent and public policy issues impacting the Senate district.
While last week’s meeting focused on housing, the committee will cover issues including transportation, addiction and recovery, Massport, seniors, education/youth services, public safety, and environmental justice throughout 2022.
“I was elected and sworn in but it was during a special election so I didn’t have the normal runway that other people have, where win in November, then they have a couple months to get adjusted and talk to people and then they get sworn in the following year,” said Edwards of why she has formed the committee. “I got sworn in nine days after winning the election So these are the conversations I would have had in the community, learning from you and your priorities with this first meeting specifically about housing. The reason why I wanted to start off my representation through listening and learning is because the best ideas that I’ve ever had are the ones that have come from the people whose real lived experiences depend on creative thinking from their legislators, and active listening.”
Edwards then took some suggestions of what sort of legislation committee members would like to see or initiatives the senator could work on.
“I’d like to see in the budget some stuff that can help people that are looking to become homeowners,” said Steve Roussel. “As we know Suffolk Downs is going to be a huge generational project that’s gonna be happening. I like to see more money put towards education and learning the rules of engagement if you’re a buyer. I think education is important to the buyers. We should try to teach more about budgeting. Like with any budget, in order for you to become a homeowner, it starts with budgeting. I think that we should be requiring this type of education in high school because having these young adults educated at an early age could head off a lot of problems they may have in the future.”
On other housing issues Edwards said she will push for another shot at getting the Home Act signed into law.
The bill, which was vetoed last time around by Gov. Baker, would remove a person’s eviction history from public record after three years.
“I worked on the Homes Act in the Boston City Council and was honored it got sponsored at the State House but was vetoed by the governor,” said Edwards. “This bill is about removing that Scarlett Letter from a person’s record who has been evicted in the past but has not had an eviction for three years and moved on with their life. I don’t know that it should be public and permanent for which they will be judged for the rest of their lives and currently eviction records are public and permanent. I have refiled the Homes Act, which allows for people after three years to seal their eviction records. This is the civil response to our state’s CORI reform. Our CORI criminal reform that we did allowed people who had a misdemeanor to seal their record after three years and if you have a felony, you can seal your record after seven years. So to me, if you’re able to move on from a misdemeanor and felony you should be able to do so if you missed rent during the pandemic, or during the last recession.”
Edwards has also co-sponsored the extension for COVID relief.
“In terms of funding and stabilization, the money is still necessary, and a lot of our relief is ending for housing on April 14,” she said. “That is a deep concern for me. I think we need to extend it.
Residents can still apply for the committee by emailing [email protected] Residents in the district are asked to send their name, city, and the topics they are interested in discussing with Edwards and she will respond with a series of dates and times to discuss each topic.