The Public Health Institute of Western MA (PHIWM) advocates for strategic policy changes at the local and state levels.
In collaboration with our Board of Directors and Data to Policy Action Board Committee, PHIWM staff work with local, regional, and statewide coalitions to help turn better policies into realities that will advance racial justice and health equity.
Our policy priorities originate from our prior research and coalition building work. They are rooted in the data and stories we gather from our Resident Advisory Council and other people with lived experience. Additionally, we may choose policy priorities that reflect the unique needs of Western MA.
Our 2023-2024 Legislative Priorities:
- An Act creating the MA Healthy Homes Program
- By Sen. Keenan and Reps. Cruz & Arriaga (S.881 / H.1307 / FACT SHEET) This bill would create a new program to provide grants and forgivable loans to eligible owner-occupants to address a multitude of health hazards (e.g. asbestos, mold, pests, lead); improve energy efficiency and lower utility costs; and increase coordination and leverage funding from existing home repair programs.
- An Act promoting access to counsel and housing stability in Massachusetts
By Sen. DiDomenico and Reps. D.Rogers & Day (S. 864 / H.1731 / FACT SHEET) Currently in Massachusetts, 90% of tenants facing eviction do so without legal representation. In contrast, most landlords are represented by counsel. This bill would establish an Access to Counsel program to provide legal representation to eligible tenants and owner-occupants in eviction proceedings.
PHIWM's testimony to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary
- An Act Promoting Housing Opportunity and Mobility through Eviction Sealing (HOMES)
- By Sen. Edwards & Rep. Moran (S.956 / H.1690 / MORE INFO) As soon as an eviction case is filed, a tenant has an eviction record, regardless of whether they did anything wrong or were even evicted. This bill is an important start to protecting tenants from undue harm, while important amendments are necessary to accomplish its intended goals.
- An Act granting a local option for a real estate transfer fee to fund affordable housing
- By Sen. Comerford & Rep. Connolly (S.1771 / H.2747 / MORE INFO)
- An Act establishing a Massachusetts foreclosure prevention program
- By Sen. Gomez & Rep. Barber (S.653 / H.942 / FACT SHEET)
- An Act providing upstream homelessness prevention assistance to families, youth, and adults (aka RAFT, Residential Assistance for Families in Transition)
- By Sen. Crighton & Rep. Decker (S.856 / H.1312 / FACT SHEET)
LOCAL PUBLIC HEALTH
- An Act relative to accelerating improvements to the local and regional public health system to address disparities in the delivery of public health services (aka SAPHE 2.0)
- By. Sen Comerford and Reps. Kane & Garlick (S.1334 / H.2204 / FACT SHEET) MA needs a local public health system made for the 21st century. The current one is fragmented and decentralized, resulting in significant variability of services among municipalities. In Western MA, where much of the region is rural, it is even harder for small towns to get the resources to meet minimum public health standards. This bill would ensure strong public health protections for all communities, regardless of race, income, or zip code.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE & SECOND CHANCE
- An Act providing easier and greater access to record (CORI) sealing
By Sen. Friedman & Rep. Keefe (S.979 / H.1598 / FACT SHEET) When criminal offense record information (aka, ‘CORIs’) that should have been sealed—but aren’t—they create tremendous obstacles for formerly incarcerated people who need to find safe, affordable housing. This bill would require the MA Commissioner of Probation to automatically seal criminal and juvenile records after the applicable waiting periods.
- An Act to remove collateral consequences and protect the presumption of innocence
- An Act to secure housing for returning citizens
- By Sen. Gomez & Rep. Montaño (S.878 / H.1362 / FACT SHEET)
- An Act relative to successful transition and re-entry to tomorrow for incarcerated persons (aka STARTT)
- Sens. Gomez & Miranda and Reps. Nguyen & Barber (S.1002 / H.1701 / FACT SHEET)
CLIMATE & TRANSPORTATION JUSTICE
- An Act to increase regional transit accessibility in the Commonwealth
- By Sen. Moran & Rep. Blais (S.2277 / H.3272 / FACT SHEET) This bill would improve and expand RTA service to better meet the needs of the diverse regions they serve by: increasing the funding floor for RTAs to support the move towards seven days a week service; create a dedicated fund for RTAs; uplift community needs through an annual RTA Council report; and eliminate profitability as a performance metric for transit agencies.
- An Act establishing a Zero Carbon Renovation Fund
- By Sen. Gomez & Rep. Vargas (S.2365 / H.3232 / MORE INFO)
- An Act establishing a Green and Healthy Schools working group and implementation plan
HEALTHCARE, SUPPORT SERVICES & HEALTH EQUITY
- An Act to ensure equitable health coverage for children (aka Cover All Kids)
- An Act assessing healthcare access
- An Act to advance health equity
- Level funding in the FY24 budget to support 413Cares
- Line item 4510-0110, $200,000 (FACT SHEET)
YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH
To be announced
For More Information
Advocacy efforts & Accomplishments
We are currently updating this portion of our website. Stay tuned for more!
2023 Signed on to a group letter to legislative leaders urging them to extend a pandemic-era eviction prevention policy, warning that the looming March 31 expiration will displace Bay Staters and stymie other efforts to keep people in their homes.
- 2023 Submitted testimony to the Western Massachusetts Passenger Rail Commission
- 2023 Springfield City Council and Mayor advance efforts for Community Choice Energy
- 2022 Submitted testimony for the Second Chance bills
- 2021 & 2022 Secured state funding to create 413cares.org
- 2021 Submitted testimony for the Cover All Kids bill
- 2019 Increased funding for Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention
- 2019 Funding of Regional Transit Authorities
- 2019 Updated School Wellness Policies for Springfield Public Schools and Square One
- 2019 Age-Friendly City designation for Springfield
- 2018 Tobacco 21 legislation (Springfield and statewide)
- 2017 Mass Food Trust funded at $1 million.
- 2017 Springfield adopts Strong, Healthy Just: Climate Action & Resilience Plan.
- 2012-2017 Springfield and Holyoke Public School Districts implement Green Cleaning practices to prevent asthma exacerbation.
- 2015 Springfield City Council passes a Resolution to adopt the Complete Streets Plan for pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure.
- 2014 Springfield City Council passes Resolution to create a Climate Action Plan.
- 2014 Springfield City Council passes Zoning Ordinance on 21st Century development supporting healthy community design.
- 2013 Springfield City Council passes Community Gardening Ordinance.
- 2012 Holyoke Public School District institutes evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
- 2012 Springfield School Committee institutes policy for distribution of condoms by school nurses and evidence-based curriculum for adolescent sexual health.
- 2012 Early education and care organizations create policies to discontinue the use of fruit and vegetables canned in syrup.
- 2010 Springfield City Council Resolution establishes Springfield Food Policy Council.
- 2009 MA Department of Early Education and Care requires tooth brushing in childcare and preschool organizations to prevent childhood cavities.