Policy and Advocacy
Public policy is an important lever in driving systems change and closing the racial wealth gap. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, 20% of Massachusetts residents had a debt in collection — rising to 39% of residents in communities of color.
Boston Builds Credit is supporting the following legislative priorities will protect people from unfair debt collection practices, limit the discriminatory impact of credit checks, and expand vital tax credits for working families. Together, we can galvanize support for policies that will advance economic justice and help promote a more equitable recovery.
Take Action on Legislation
Join us today in calling on our state leaders to strengthen consumer protections, limit the use of credit scores for employment and housing decisions, and expand refundable tax credits that reward work.
2021-2022 Legislative Priorities
The Debt Collection Fairness Act (DCFA)
- Presenters: Senator Jamie Eldridge, Representative Tram Nguyen, and Representative Christine Barber
- Description: This bill aims to address the impending tsunami of defaulted debts related to the pandemic. Current MA law protects only $35,100 annually from wage garnishment. The DCFA would increase the protected amount to $49,140 annually. The bill will also reduce the state’s 12% interest rate on judgments (the highest in the country), and clarify that no one in the Commonwealth shall be imprisoned for the failure to pay a debt. This bill is an expenditure-free way to correct the long-standing inequities in debt collection, and help keep more money in the pockets of hardworking residents.
Fair Chance in Employment Act (FCEA)
- Presenters: Senator Michael Barrett and Representative Liz Malia
- Description: This bill will help ensure that people aren’t denied a job, just because they have a less than perfect credit report. Employment credit checks are not only inaccurate, with 20% of consumers having verified errors in their credit reports and little correlation to future job performance, but they can also hinder an individual’s ability to secure a stable job and improve their credit. As we recover from the pandemic, it is vital that residents be given a fair chance to re-enter the workforce. Massachusetts has led the way by being one of three states (CA, HI, MA) to ban the use of credit scores in auto insurance decisions or pricing. This act will continue our state’s progress by removing a discriminatory barrier to employment.
Limiting the Use of Credit Reporting in Rental Housing Decisions
- Presenters: Senator Eric Lesser and Representative Liz Malia
- Description: This bill will prevent landlords from using or requesting a credit report, or requiring an applicant to answer questions about it, when making a decision about an applicant or current tenant’s lease except when otherwise required by law. The use of credit scores in rental housing decisions also perpetuates historic racial inequities in housing, as credit scores are often lower in communities of color. Landlords will still have many tools to protect themselves. Tenants, who may be late on credit card payments but have never fallen behind on their rent before, could struggle to find affordable housing due to the effect the pandemic has had on their credit score and reports. This bill would protect MA tenants by ensuring that their credit scores do not prevent them from finding stable housing.
Economic Stabilization through Expanded Income Supports
- Presenters: Senator Jamie Eldridge / Senator Sal DiDomenico, Representative Marjorie Decker, and Representative Andy Vargas
- Description: These two identical bills will help ensure that everyone in the Commonwealth can attain a basic standard of living. The bills would increase the state EITC match rate from 30 to 50% of the federal credit, establish a minimum $2,400 credit for extremely low-income households, and expand eligibility for previously excluded people, including middle-income families making between $57-75K annually, ITIN holders, unpaid caretakers, younger adults between the ages of 18-25, and older adults between 65-67.
The pandemic has taken a significant toll on residents throughout the Commonwealth, especially on those who were already the most economically vulnerable. Join us today in advocating for the passage of these bills that will help increase financial stability and address persistent racial disparities in our region.
For more information on these legislative priorities, please view this document.