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Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker is rehiring 15 retired judges to fire up what critics call the "eviction machine," according to reports.
The retired judges are being brought back to court as the state faces a backlog of cases regarding its sweeping eviction ban that passed in April as part of the governor's coronavirus emergency declaration. The ban, set to end on Saturday, halted all eviction and foreclosure court proceedings amid the pandemic.
"The wheels of the eviction machine are spinning and the programs and processes that were supposed to make it fairer for tenants are not in place," Lewis Finfer, co-director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network, told the Boston Herald.
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in Boston.
The governor's eviction ban stopped 40,000 active eviction cases from proceeding in court, according to the Herald.
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Baker, a Republican, on Tuesday announced a $171 million initiative to "promote household stability, and provide more support for tenants and small landlords" in a statement.
The initiative will put $100 million toward a relief program for renters and landlords; $48.7 million toward rehousing programs; $12.3 million toward legal representation for landlords and renters in need; $6.5 million for those facing housing emergencies; and $3.8 million toward case management support.
In this Monday, Sept. 16, 2019 file photo Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker speaks with reporters at the Statehouse, in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
The initiative also includes funding for the judges, but an exact figure is unknown; District Court judges make upward of $185,000 per year, the Herald reported.
A spokeswoman for the Office of the Trial Court told the outlet that the judges are being rehired for a maximum of 24 weeks "primarily to address the critical backlog of eviction cases throughout the commonwealth … until the Trial Court is up to date on eviction cases."
Baker pushed the initial end date for the eviction moratorium back to Aug. 18, but is unlikely to do so again.
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