Formerly the Chair of the GBIO Criminal Justice Reform Team, Ms. Williams organized and successfully led campaigns to reduce the rate and harm of incarceration. This helped lead to the state's 2018 Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform Law and the 2020 Police Accountability Reform Law. Her work broadened GBIO's internal base of leaders and led to many strong partnerships, including ACLU and The Working Group for Criminal Justice Reform.
Currently, Ms. Williams has organized a local Boston community GBIO task team to help educate hesitant community members on COVID vaccination and increase community turnout. She is an active member of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Boston, a wife and mother of two adult sons. She has one granddaughter who she hopes is learning how to give something of herself to the betterment of the community.
With enhanced COVID-19 unemployment insurance approved by Congress, many homeowners
may be able to receive close to 100% of their previous income by filing for unemployment. This
could enable homeowners to continue paying their mortgage. If this is possible for homeowners,
it is the always best option and will result in no extra costs now or in the future.
If it is not possible, here are our suggestions for what a homeowners should expect from their
lender during this crisis. MAHA is ready to help those homeowners who took our class in the
past and/or have a mortgage from the Massachusetts Housing Partnership SoftSecond or ONE
The key to all of this is what lenders will do in negotiating with borrowers. It is typical for
lenders to offer forbearance but then to expect repayment over a relatively short period of time
(3-6 months or so). That will increase a homeowner’s monthly obligation substantially as they
try to pay their regular mortgage payment plus a portion of what is owed.
Given that the recovery from this crisis is likely to be slow for many, the only feasible solution is
to move the missed payments to the back end of the loan when the borrower has many more
options. What is key, however, is that the lender not capitalize the arrears and collect interest on
the missed payments. In one scenario for a borrower that is in the second year of paying their
mortgage, missing $1,700 in three months of interest payments would result in them paying an
additional $4,490 by the end of the 30 year term.
Dear Governor Charlie Baker,
The world is in crisis and now more than ever we appreciate your resolute leadership. 74 of
Greater Boston Interfaith Organization Friends and allies representing civic sector institutions –
communities of faith, unions, social service providers, healthcare centers and schools – are
deeply committed to assisting in the fight against COVID-19. Though we are no strangers to
crisis, this one is truly unprecedented. In this time of crisis, we are called by our faith to honor
the sanctity of human life and to exercise our Prophetic voice with the most vulnerable among
us. We are writing to you for two purposes. The first is to extend an offer of help during this
We are willing to step up in a range of ways, including mobilizing our people for any job
that keeps us safe and pursuing any other possible ways to help. We will do anything in our
power to slow the spread of this epidemic, treat the sick and aid in the recovery.
The Honorable Governor Charles Baker
Senate President Karen Spilka
Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo
Members of the Massachusetts Legislature
We call upon the Governor, Senate, and House to pass a clear moratorium on evictions and
foreclosures NOW and support renters and homeowners across the Commonwealth during
this global COVID-19 pandemic.
As the first day of the month comes and goes, hundreds of thousands of Massachusetts renters
and homeowners agonize over whether they will be able to make rent and mortgage payments or
be forced to face eviction and homelessness, at a time when they have been told to stay home.
We urge the Governor and the Legislature to take meaningful and swift action to protect the lives
of Massachusetts renters and homeowners during this unprecedented public health crisis.by
passing a strong eviction moratorium.
At its core, a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures is an emergency public health protection
measure, one that must match the extraordinary restrictions already placed on businesses,
schools, and workers across the globe. Governor Baker has reiterated the need to stay home and
maintain social distancing, the best protection against preventing COVID-19 infections. The
Governor and public health officials have warned that the worst is yet to come in Massachusetts.
Keeping people at home is a matter of life and death.
In order to meet these critical public health goals it is imperative that evictions be paused from
start to finish. Placing a clear and temporary freeze on all aspects of eviction is the only way to
ensure that people stay in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. There are several key
principles that we believe must be included in any eviction moratorium legislation for it to meet
its public health goals:
The House has now passed a moratorium bill, H.4615. That bill addresses many of the key
principles noted above, and is a strong foundation for enacting a pause on evictions. That
temporary pause must start from the first eviction notice sent to a tenant through the time a
tenant could be forcibly removed from her home by a sheriff. H.4615 can and should be further
improved, mainly by ensuring that any exceptions to the moratorium are narrow and reflect only
the most serious emergencies, and also by simplifying the language that pauses late fees. But it
is a good starting place and we urge that, with these improvements, it be enacted as soon as
Since March 16, 2020, when the courts began instituting closures and reduced services, over 480
new eviction cases have been filed in Massachusetts Housing Courts. This number represents
hundreds of families possibly endangering themselves, their friends and families, and the public
as they may move or become homeless.
We, and our broad network of organizations, stand ready to work together to consider next-phase
issues with the time and consideration they deserve, including how to provide mortgage and rent
relief, how federal legislation will affect Massachusetts, and other questions that will arise as we
anticipate the end of the emergency. However, in order to protect lives today we urge the
Governor and the Legislature to act decisively to pass an eviction and foreclosure moratorium
that will keep our citizens and community safe.
We appreciate the efforts that Senate President Spilka, Speaker DeLeo, and other members and
their staff have made to listen to and consider our proposals. We thank you for leadership during
this difficult time.
836 strong, GBIO joined the MA Senate President, Senate Health Care Finance Chair, and Secretary of Health and Human Services on Monday, November 4th to push for progress on health care in Massachusetts. All three politicians have released, or committed to, legislation that addresses the 3 priority issues in GBIO’s health care legislative campaign:
During Monday night’s action, leaders from across GBIO shared personal stories of struggles connected to these issues:
Bonny Gilbert and Michael Rubenstein, co-chairs of the GBIO Health Care Action Team, reviewed the policy goals of GBIO’s legislative campaign, and the politics it would take to win. Senate President Karen Spilka, Senator Cindy Friedman and Secretary of Health and Human Services Marylou Sudders spoke of their commitment and their actions to address our issues. Both Spilka and Sudders shared their own stories of struggling with mental health care of family members.
Before the action closed in prayer, GBIO leaders committed to holding in-district meetings with members of the House of Representatives to push for legislative action in the house, with the goal of passing legislation this session.
Over 85 people from 43 guest organization, including the Boston Teachers Union, St. Cecelias Catholic Church, Unite Here Local 26 and Hyde Park Seventh Day Adventist, to name a few, joined GBIO in action. These institutions are looking to engage with GBIO, either as allies or as prospective new members, as part of GBIO’s refounding. Last May, current GBIO leaders voted to Refound GBIO by 2021, with the goal of bringing in 10-20 new institutions.
GBIO is pushing for real reform in the 2019-2020 session of the Massachusetts Legislature by:
GBIO and coalition partners recently scored our first win in this campaign - saving $140 million in prescription drug costs in the 2020 state budget.
Last October, at a gathering of 1,487 Greater Boston Interfaith Organization leaders, Somali mothers told stories of their children playing on an unfenced cliff at a local playground. In response to their organizing, City Councilor Kim Janey answered their call to become the “champion of Jeep Jones Park.” Janey organized a walk-through of the park with Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy, and Open Space, Christopher Cook, and negotiated with the Mayor’s Office to put $100,000 for improvements to Jeep Jones Park into the city’s upcoming capital budget.
This day of action was part of a broader GBIO Health Care legislative campaign that will span the legislative session and build on past victories in health care. In this legislative campaign, GBIO is pushing for real reform in the current session of the Massachusetts Legislature by:
Massachusetts consumers and taxpayers will save over one billion dollars of healthcare costs over the next seven years as a result of price caps established in response to action by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO). The cost savings are based on a report by the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission, a state research agency established by a law championed by GBIO in 2012.
Beth Israel and Lahey Health Systems and a combination of 13 hospitals have been attempting to merge into a single healthcare system since the beginning of 2017. By forming the second largest healthcare system in Massachusetts, BILH believes it will be better able to compete against Partners Healthcare, the dominant healthcare system in Massachusetts. GBIO has been fighting for consumers and taxpayers to ensure that the merger would not cause a dramatic increase in costs. When the Health Policy Commission predicted that the merger would drive up healthcare costs by as much as $230 million dollars per year, GBIO challenged Attorney General Maura Healey and other state agencies to protect consumers from this outrageous increase in cost.
At a 1400-person action, held on October 22nd at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, GBIO leaders called on Attorney General Maura Healey to fight for conditions “with teeth” in the proposed merger, to protect consumers from increasing costs and declining access, particularly for low income and communities of color.
On November 29th, she announced an unprecedented seven-year price cap to ensure that Beth Israel Lahey Health does not take advantage of its market power to increase its prices. The agreement between Attorney General Healy and BILH also addressed other GBIO demands, including improved access for the Massachusetts Medicaid population and $72 million in support of lower-cost settings for healthcare.
In an interview with WBUR radio, Bonny Gilbert, co-chair of the GBIO healthcare action team, said, "We would like to see this kind of stronger language at least be the beginnings of more constraints on Partners and some of the other health care providers." And, says Gilbert, the caps must not be allowed to expire for BILH.
WCVB Channel 5 highlighted GBIO’s involvement in this merger.
From 2009 to 2014, GBIO leaders, including then-GBIO President Rev. Hurmon Hamilton of Roxbury Presbyterian Church, fought and won a battle to replace the deteriorating Dearborn Middle School with a $73 million, state-of-the-art grade 6-12 STEM academy for students in its under-served Roxbury neighborhood.
In 2018, Rev. Hamilton returned to Boston to attend Mayor Walsh’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, but the celebration became a demand for action as key staff positions remained unfunded. Nearly 225 GBIO leaders were present to demand full funding. In response, some positions were filled and GBIO and Roxbury Presbyterian Church continue to monitor progress.
“When We Fight, We Win!”
Leaders from the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization, and allies, chanted in victory at the MA Statehouse on April 13th as Governor Baker signed a sweeping criminal justice bill into law – the first of its kind in decades. Since 2015, GBIO has fought for strong reforms by targeting four issues, designed to reduce barriers to a fair criminal justice system that have disproportionately affected poor people and people of color. All four of GBIO’s priority issues were included in the recent law:
Beverly Williams, co-chair of GBIO’s Criminal Justice Team said, “The new law is not perfect, but it is meaningful legislation for Massachusetts. Reform leaders worked tirelessly for 3 years to make this happen.” Through legislator meetings, relationship building, and a series of large actions, GBIO helped shape comprehensive Criminal Justice reform bills that, despite early resistance, passed the House and Senate by veto-proof majorities in late 2017. A reconciliation bill proceeded behind closed doors for 4 months.
The ultimate bill included GBIO’s four issues, as well as many other issues of interest to GBIO and allies. It passed unanimously in the Senate (37-0) and nearly unanimously in the House (148-5) and was signed by Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker.
Co-Chair Alan Epstein said, “It is a huge step forward for the state in our efforts to reduce mass incarceration, eliminate racial disparities, reduce costs and introduce fairness, compassion and intelligence into our criminal legal system. Everyone in Massachusetts will benefit from what we did.”
Read more here: http://baystatebanner.com/news/2018/mar/29/criminal-justice-reform-bill-turning-point-massach/
As a result, all four of GBIO’s issues were addressed in October’s ground-breaking Senate Bill CLICK HERE FOR STORY, as well as the House’s slightly more conservative November bill, described by the Boston Globe CLICK HERE FOR STORY as the house’s "most sweeping criminal justice bill in years.” Details are now being worked out in conference committee.
Beverly is most proud of GBIO’s success on mandatory minimums. “Nothing had moved on this issue for 18 years,” says Beverly. “When the Council of State Government did a study of our MA criminal justice system, back in 2016, mandatory minimums were not even under review. For us to have pushed it, and now it’s in conference, that’s a big deal!”
Beverly’s passion for this issue is deeply personal. “In my community, the reality is most young men between 18 and 25 are locked up. I could see that locking people up and punishing them, especially in low-level crimes, was not the answer.” She was determined to change a system that left many low-income people and people of color locked in a cycle of incarceration and poverty.
As Beverly became more involved in the fight for justice, she realized, “It wasn’t just about investing in the issue but about investing in myself. For me to have an impact, I had to develop my own leadership skills.” She attended an IAF regional training and built new skills by diving into the work, taking on new roles, even when she wasn’t sure she was ready. “I had to build relationships with powerful people, with people in the streets, with people I hadn’t had relationships with before. In having these relationships, in listening to other peoples’ stories and impressions and thoughts, I learned more about myself. I learned to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”
Although she is honored to receive the Community Champion Award, Beverly is clear that there is “still much more work to be done.” Of the House and Senate bills, she says, “if we get a major win out of this, there are going to be more people out of prisons and we need to keep fighting for them. We need to make sure they get much-needed services. We need to get them into jobs.”
In the final hours before a House vote on criminal justice reform, GBIO clergy led close to 200 of our members in a rally pushing for changes in state criminal justice laws. Majority Whip Byron Rushing thanked GBIO for the work we’ve done so far, and urged us to keep the pressure on during the last hours of debate.
Retired Judge Nancy Gertner and several House Reps joined clergy in calling for a criminal justice system that addresses racial and income disparities in sentencing, removes fees and penalties that keep people trapped in the prison system, and spends tax dollars on treating, rather than punishing low level drug offenders with addictions and/ or mental health issues.
In Boston, GBIO members Old South Church and Trinity win $6 million from developer Boston Properties
When Boston Properties announced plans for a new $1 billion development, Old South Church and Trinity opposed the project, citing the Massachusetts Historic Commission’s ruling that new shadows from the high-rise could damage their historic buildings. After leveraging these concerns in negotiations with the developer, the two churches – both members of the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization -- have won $6 million from Boston Properties: $3 million for the two churches for historic preservation and another $3 million for a citywide fund for affordable homeownership programs. GBIO plans to keep pushing for more homeownership funding from big developments.