A Student Perspective: A Day in the Boston Housing Court
Guest Post: Samantha Odreman is the current Lawyer Referral Service Co-op Intern at the BBA. Born in Venezuela, Samantha is finishing her sophomore year at Northeastern University where she studies International Affairs.
Last Thursday, I had the opportunity to go to Housing Court and found it a fascinating experience. I met with the attorneys who volunteer for the BBA’s Lawyer for the Day in the Boston Housing Court Program to help hundreds of landlords and tenants in need of a fair resolution. Over the course of the morning, I observed the people who entered the courthouse looking nervous and anxious begin to see the difference the volunteers were going to be able to make. After talking the attorneys, they seemed to calm down. Throughout the day, I watched landlords and tenants working with the volunteers to prepare their cases and get some answers. It was interesting to see that most landlords were big housing corporations with experienced attorneys, whereas tenants were mostly on their own. Inside the courtroom, most cases were sent to mediation and the rest were dismissed because one of the parties had defaulted. However, I was lucky enough to witness different hearings and see first hand the amazing work that volunteer attorneys do for their clients.
After a very busy morning, Judge Jeffrey Winik, First Justice of the Boston Housing Court, invited a small group of us to the front of the courtroom to ask questions. He explained why he cared so much about the people who came to Court and the importance of the work he does. He is very much aware of how much power and authority the Housing Court has and the responsibility that carries. He works hard to make sure both parties get the best outcome. I really admire his commitment to people and his passion for doing things right.
Going to Housing Court definitely made me see things from a different perspective. It is very hard to go through a situation where you could lose your home because you cannot pay or because someone did not pay you. However, it eases my mind to know that there are people who really want to make things work and are willing to make an effort, and I am glad there is a system in place for those who choose to do just that.