Advocacy

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FY 2019 (14)

FY 2018 (25)

FY 2017 (30)

FY 2016 (8)

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FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Conference Committee is Meeting Now to Finalize the State Budget

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Conference Committee is Meeting Now to Finalize the State Budget

Posted June 11, 2019; updated June 20th

** There's still time to take action! Please sign and share our latest one-minute online action in support of the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities for the Conference Committee stage of the budget process. If you prefer printing and mailing the letter, a PDF version is here.**

At the end of May, the State Senate wrapped up their budget. Last week, the three House and three Senate members who make up the FY'20 budget Conference Committee began meeting to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget. The conferees are Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Cindy Friedman, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Denise Garlick, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola.

As the Conference Committee meets, we want to make sure that the conferees and House and Senate leadership are hearing directly from Massachusetts residents and from their legislative colleagues in support of key homelessness, housing, and benefits issues. Today, we are asking you to sign and share our latest one-minute online action in support of the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities for the Conference Committee stage of the budget process. This letter will be sent to your State Senator and Representative, asking them actively to weigh in in support of the deepest investments and most helpful budget language possible.


The action highlights our requests for:

• Senate-proposed language for the Emergency Assistance family shelter program to ensure that children and families do not have to stay in places not meant for human habitation before accessing shelter, and Senate-proposed funding level of $178.7 million, which is $13 million more than the House-proposed level (EA, line item 7004-0101). We are grateful that both the House and Senate budgets would allow families to retain shelter benefits while increasing their incomes up to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines (before the existing grace period would begin).

• Senate-proposed funding of $5 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), which is $1.7 million more than the House-proposed level

• Senate-proposed funding of $21 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), which is $1 million more than the House-proposed level

• House-proposed direct funding of $110 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which is $6 million more than the Senate-proposed direct appropriation, and Senate-proposed language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or renewed on or after August 1st and that would carry over $6,000,000 in unspent FY'19 funds

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, including our Conference Committee requests in columns O and P.

Please stay tuned for additional updates. Thank you for your advocacy and partnership!



FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Budget Debate is Underway

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Budget Debate is Underway

Posted May 21, 2019

The Senate's fiscal year 2020 budget debate officially kicked off this morning. Thank you for all of your help in getting Senators to cosponsor and actively support key homelessness amendments. The debate on the 1,142 amendments filed will extend throughout the week.

We are continuing to work on three main amendments:

- Amendment #797 to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet- PDF, updated 5-14-19; call script - PDF; talking points - PDF

- Amendment #464 to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness,  filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet - PDF, updated 5-14-19

- Amendment #715 to provide an additional $20 million to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn: general FY'20 MRVP budget fact sheet - PDF

We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:

- Amendment #872 to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O'Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart)

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that were filed (see columns K-L ), as well as our May 8th action alert and May 14th action alert.

Please stay tuned for additional updates, or follow along by watching the sessions online. Thank you for your advocacy and partnership!



FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the Senate Ways and Means Budget and Senate Budget Amendments

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the Senate Ways and Means Budget and Senate Budget Amendments

Posted May 8, 2019, last updated May 14th

** Please see our May 14th action alert and join us in taking action: Take action with us! Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor key homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits amendments to improve upon the FY'20 Senate Ways and Means budget **

On May 7th, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations. This is the first budget under the leadership of Senate President Karen Spilka of Ashland and Senate Ways and Means Chair Michael Rodrigues of Westport. Senate Ways and Means (SWM) recommended $42.7 billion in spending for the new fiscal year, which will begin on July 1st.

The budget includes strong recommended language and proposed investments in homelessness, housing, and benefits programs, including:

·         Emergency Assistance family and shelter program (EA, line item 7004-0101) language to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter (matching our advocacy request on places not meant for human habitation; partially matching our overall request)

·         $1.7 million in additional funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, which would bring the funding level up to $5 million (matching our advocacy request)

·         Level funding of $20 million for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and language that would maintain access for households without dependent children (partially matching our overall advocacy request)

·         $10 million in new funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), which would bring the funding level up to $110 million, and language that would update the allowable monthly rent levels to match current fair market rents for mobile subsidies issued or leased after August 1, 2019 (partially matching our advocacy request)

·         $1.85 million in additional funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030) that would increase funding to $8 million (matching our advocacy request)

·        $6.5 million in additional funding for state-funded public housing operating subsidies (line item 7004-9005) that would increase funding to $72 million (matching our advocacy request)


·         Language that would maintain full Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000) benefits to participants experiencing homelessness (matching our advocacy request)

·         Important funding and language for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), including language that would remove the homelessness penalty and restore benefits to families experiencing homelessness, as well as additional funds to provide benefits to families previously subject to the family cap rule (matching/addressing our advocacy request)

Here is our updated FY'20 budget chart, with our initial analysis of key line items related to homelessness, housing, and benefits, and preliminary information about budget amendments that will be filed to improve upon the SWM budget (see columns K-L ), as well as our May 8th action alert.

State Senators were able to file amendments until noon on Friday, May 10th, and can cosponsor amendments until the full Senate budget debate, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, May 21st.

We are working on three main amendments:

- Amendment #797 to establish and fund the upstream Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) under the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program, filed by Senator Pat Jehlen of Somerville: RAAP Senate amendment fact sheet- PDF, updated 5-14-19; call script - PDF; talking points - PDF

- Amendment #464 to ease access to Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness,  filed by Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler of Worcester: Mass ID access amendment fact sheet - PDF, updated 5-14-19

- Amendment #715 to provide an additional $20 million to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, filed by Senator Brendan Crighton of Lynn: general FY'20 MRVP budget fact sheet - PDF

Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor and actively support these amendments. You can identify who your Senator is by going to www.wheredoivotema.com, and you can reach your Senator by calling the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

We also are partnering with allied organizations on related amendments to additional programs, including:

- Amendment #872 to allow families in Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to increase their incomes to 200% of the federal poverty guidelines before going over the income limit, filed by Senator Patrick O'Connor of Weymouth (as described in our budget priority chart)

We will be back in touch soon with additional amendment details and updates so that you can help us secure as many amendment cosponsors as possible. If your Senator is a member of Senate Ways and Means or Senate leadership, please thank them for the strong budget.

We continue to be grateful for your collaboration and interest!
FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the House Ways and Means Budget and House Budget Amendments

FY'20 Budget Advocacy: A Look at the House Ways and Means Budget and House Budget Amendments

Posted April 11, 2019; last updated April 19th

* Read about House budget outcomes in our follow-up action alert from May 2nd. *

On April 10th, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or "HWM") released its fiscal year 2020 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $42.7 billion budget is the first budget under the leadership of new House Ways and Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz. 

See our updated budget chart for a preliminary analysis in columns G and H of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities, as well as our budget action alert.

Below are some quick highlights of line items in need of amendments. Please call your State Representative today or early tomorrow to ask them to sign onto these critical amendments.  You can look up your State Representative via  www.wheredoivotema.com. After calling or emailing them, please let us know what the response was from your Representative's office. For your reference, here is the email we sent to Representatives.

Key Amendments:

  • Amendment #1127: Rent Arrearage Assistance Program (RAAP) amendment to line item 7004-9316 filed by Representative Marjorie Decker to create a $7 million upstream homelessness prevention pilot program within the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) to help households pay for back rent and mortgage payments: fact sheet (updated 4-19-19)call script, and talking points (PDF files)

  • Amendment #1124: Emergency Assistance (EA) amendment to line item 7004-0101 filed by Representative Marjorie Decker to ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to sleep in places not meant for human habitation before becoming eligible for EA shelter: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)

  • Amendment #883: Youth homelessness amendment to line item 4000-0007 filed by Representative Jim O'Day to increase funding for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)

  • Amendment #765: Mass ID access amendment to create a new outside section of the budget filed by Representative Kay Khan to ease access to standard Mass IDs for people experiencing homelessness: fact sheet (PDF, updated 4-16-19)


Check back on this page for more details on other House budget amendments. Amendments were due by Friday, April 12th at 5 p.m. The full House will debate the budget the week of April 22nd.

Thank you for your advocacy and collaboration to push for a #BudgetToEndHomelessness!
Massachusetts Youth Count 2019

Massachusetts Youth Count 2019

Posted March 15, 2019; last updated April 17th

The Coalition is proud to be a lead collaborator once again with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the 6th annual Massachusetts Youth Count. The Massachusetts Youth Count mobilizes youth, young adults, youth providers funded by the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, Continua of Care, schools, and other community partners to survey young people under the age of 25 from all across the Commonwealth who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability. The insights and data gathered from the survey process are used to influence advocacy and programming to address youth and young adult homelessness.

This year's Youth Count will take place from Friday, April 12th - Sunday, May 12th (with some communities potentially doing additional outreach at events in the weeks after the Youth Count). Here are the survey links:

- Online survey in English
- Online survey in Spanish  
- Printable survey in Spanish (PDF, 4-page version)
- Printable (paper) survey in English (PDF) with shortened link to share: 
tinyurl.com/ycs2019-e
- Printable survey in Haitian Kreyol
- Printable survey in Cape Verdean Creole
- Printable survey in Portuguese

While the regional youth agencies will be entering most surveys, if you are young person completing a paper survey, completed printed surveys can be scanned/photographed and emailed to Kelly or mailed to the Kelly Turley, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 73 Buffum Street, Lynn, MA 01902.

** We actively are recruiting youth and young adults who identify as LGBTQ, especially LGBTQ youth of color, to join in the Youth Count as Youth Ambassadors to recruit peers to participate in the survey. Compensation and supports will be provided. If you are interested in serving in the role, please complete this simple self-nomination form. Please also share this Youth Ambassador outreach flyer with other young people who might be interested. Special thanks to the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth for supporting this initiative! **

Thank you to everyone who participate in 2019 Youth Count webinar on April 4th. The webinar recording will be available shortly. 

Here is a Youth Count outreach flyer (PDF, with a QR code to this page), half-page outreach flyer (PDF, with a QR code directly to the online survey; flyer can printed and cut in half), and an overview letter (PDF) from Linn Torto of the Commission and the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness to youth providers funded through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services on Youth Count 2019. Check this page soon for an overview of the 2019 Youth Count and an outreach flyer in Spanish.

The results of the 2018 Massachusetts Youth Count are now available. Read the 2018 Youth Count report from the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth here. To see materials from last year's survey, please  check out this page.

For more details about the Coalition's advocacy on addressing and ending youth and young adult homelessness, please click here:unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness page or contact Kelly. Follow the Massachusetts Youth Count on Facebook: Youth Count Facebook page.

QR code to online survey:
qr code directly to online survey english version

Speak up for a strong budget on homelessness and housing issues: Join us April 2nd for a public hearing on the FY'20 state budget

Speak up for a strong budget on homelessness and housing issues: Join us April 2nd for a public hearing on the FY'20 state budget

Posted March 22, 2019; last updated April 2nd

Please plan to join us at the Massachusetts State House on Tuesday, April 2nd for the Joint Committee on Ways and Means public hearing on the FY'20 budget. This hearing is for members of the public to weigh in with the House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means as they develop the state's fiscal year 2020 budget. Come speak up for deeper investments in housing, homelessness prevention resources, emergency services, and benefits.

The hearing is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. in Gardner Auditorium in the basement of the State House. We also will be hosting a pre-hearing meet-up that morning from 9:30-10:30 a.m. to prepare for the hearing. The pre-hearing event will be at Church on the Hill, 140 Bowdoin Street, Boston, MA 02108.

Pre-Hearing Gathering Details:
Tuesday, April 2nd
9:30-10:30 a.m.
Church on the Hill
140 Bowdoin Street, 2nd floor
Boston, MA 02108
(Across from the State House)

Hearing Details:
Tuesday, April 2nd
Beginning at 11 a.m., and likely will run until late afternoon
Massachusetts State House 
24 Beacon Street
Gardner Auditorium, basement level
Boston, MA 02133

(Closest entrance: Beacon Street side)

Please RSVP to let us know if you plan to join us for the pre-hearing gathering and/or hearing.

We specifically are organizing panels of speakers to testify in support of re-establishing an upstream rental arrearage program through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT), providing Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to families with children before they have to stay in places not meant for human habitation, and increasing funding to provide housing and wraparound services to unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. If you would like to be part of one of these panels, please let us know.

House Ways and Means has confirmed that they are requesting that each person's oral testimony be limited to no more than three minutes. Oral testimony can be supplemented with written testimony.

Not available on April 2nd, or unable to travel to Boston? There are still ways for you to join us in advocacy! We encourage you to submit written testimony to us, which we are glad to deliver to the Committee for you in-person. You can also join us on social media, by posting video statements and written thoughts on why you urge the Committee to fund solutions to homelessness, housing instability, and poverty in the state budget. Follow us and join conversation with the hashtag #BudgetToEndHomelessness. Please also sign and share our one-minute online budget action to State Representatives and Senators.

Read more about the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities (PDF, updated 3-29-19) and on our budget spreadsheet.

See more details about the hearing on the Legislature's website.

Read our email about the hearing here.

Rent arrearage campaign materials: Talking points, sample testimony, and sample letter packet (PDF) and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Emergency Assistance campaign materials: Talking points (PDF), budget fact sheet (PDF), and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Unaccompanied youth campaign materials: Talking points, sample testimony, and sample letter packet (PDF) and Coalition testimony (PDF)

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Posted March 15, 2019

Our hearts are filled with gratitude for all of your support for our recent Legislative Action Day at the State House! We had 200 people with us: families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness, providers, advocates, legislators, and other people of conscience, all speaking up for solutions to homelessness, housing instability, and poverty, and taking action to ensure that everyone has a place to call home.

We are especially grateful to all of our event volunteers and speakers: community members with lived experience of homelessness, legislators, and advocates (see below). Check out some photos from the day.

We also are very thankful to everyone who met and/or called legislators and staff in the afternoon to advocate for key homelessness and housing bill and budget priorities. Links to fact sheets on the Coalition's key FY'20 budget requests and 2019-2020 bill priorities are on our policy campaigns page.

** Please let us know how your experience was at Legislative Action Day by completing this brief survey. **

If you did speak with legislators and staff, please complete the legislative response form. If you didn't, it is not too late! Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and/or their staff in the week ahead to express your support for the Coalition's budget
 and bill priorities. Ask your State Senator and State Representative to actively support these priorities throughout the FY'20 budget process and this bill session. Legislators' contact information can be found at www.malegislature.gov/people/search or at www.wheredoivotema.com. Here are some other tips for talking to legislative offices.

** Please also help us expand the impact of Legislative Action Day by signing and sharing our one-minute online action to legislators in support of key FY'20 budget priorities. Do you prefer to print, sign, and mail your action? A printable version is here, with mailing addresses available at the contact links above. **

From across the Commonwealth, we raised our voices, with one message, and took action to end homelessness. Let's continue to build up that momentum!

Thank you for your partnership and solidarity!



LAD thank you 3 15 19 2
 
Legislative Action Day 2019: Thank You for Joining Us at the State House on February 28th

Legislative Action Day 2019: Thank You for Joining Us at the State House on February 28th

Posted January 8, 2019, last updated March 1st

** Thank you to everyone who participated in person and remotely in our Legislative Action Day 2019! Please amplify the impact of the day by signing and sharing our latest one-minute online action in support of the Coalition's FY'20 budget priorities. **

Pre-Event Page:

We hope to see you at the State House for our annual Legislative Action Day on Thursday, February 28, 2019 in the Great Hall. The event will be hosted by State Representative Jim O'Day. The day will begin with check-in and light breakfast starting at 9 a.m., with the speaking program from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. See our preliminary schedule (PDF) and media advisory (PDF) here. In the afternoon, participants will fan out across the State House to meet with legislators and their staff.

Registration is still open. Register today to participate in the event and sign up here to be an event-day volunteer. Help spread the word by sharing this general event flyer (JPG) and this flyer for legislators (JPG).

Thank you to everyone who prepared for Legislative Action Day by joining our pre-event training call this Thursday, February 21st. (See the training flyer here.)

A key part of the day will be meetings with your state legislators and their staff to talk about why you support investments in housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, income support programs, and related resources. We are happy to help you set up those meetings (just let us know on your registration form). Here are some tips to help guide your legislative meetings (PDF).

After you meet or call your legislators as part of Legislative Action Day, please complete this online response form or the printable response form (PDF) to share your feedback. 

At Legislative Action Day, participants will hear from families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability, as well as researchers, advocates, and legislators. Confirmed legislative speakers so far include our host, Representative Jim O'Day, as well as Senate President Karen Spilka, Senate President Emerita Harriette Chandler, Senator Sal DiDomenico, Senator Becca Rausch, Senator Pat Jehlen, Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative Kay Khan, Representative Denise Provost, and Representative Smitty Pignatelli.

The day will focus on advocating for key FY'20 budget priorities (PDF) and 2019-2020 bill priorities (PDF), including efforts to:

- Re-establish a statewide rental arrearage program to help households avoid homelessness by providing back rent assistance (bill and budget campaign; see House Docket 2395)

- Ensure that families experiencing homelessness do not have to stay in a place not meant for human habitation before being eligible for Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and services (bill and budget campaigns; see House Docket 2406)

- Increase funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (budget campaign)
        -- We are happy to be able to host a youth and young adult networking event as part of Legislative Action Day, coordinated by the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Youth's State Plan Team. The event will take place in the back half of the Great Hall from 1-2 p.m. For more details and to sign-up to participate in the networking event, please contact Jamila from the State Plan Team. Youth and young adults with lived experience of homelessness and housing insta
bility will have the opportunity to meet with other youth and young adult advocates from across the state and to provide feedback on the Commission's draft document, "Guidance for Adult Shelters Serving Young Adults". Participants will be eligible to receive compensation for their participation.  

- Ease access to standard Massachusetts ID cards for people experiencing homelessness by eliminating the $25 fee and allowing alternative ways to verify Massachusetts residency without requiring a permanent address (bill and budget campaigns; see Senate Docket 667 and House Docket 1263)

- Establish a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 1952 and House Docket 2776, as well as Senate Docket 1950, An 
Act relative to the safety, dignity, and civil rights of persons experiencing homelessness)

- Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC) (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 1382 and House Docket 605)

Eliminate the so-called “family cap rule” that currently prohibits children from receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC) benefits because their family was participating in the TAFDC program at the time of their conception (or shortly thereafter) (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 1452 and House Docket 3043)

- Increase monthly grant levels in the TAFDC and EAEDC programs to lift households out of deep poverty (bill campaign, see Senate Docket 1328 and House Docket 2367)


- Strengthen the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT) and expand upstream homelessness prevention efforts (budget campaign)

Improve the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) by increasing funding from $100 million to $130 million (budget campaign) and make important program changes, including allowing tenants to use their subsidies in units at the current fair market rent instead of 2005 fair market rent level and establishing the program in state statute and not just the annual state budget (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 864 and House Docket 3872)

- Increase the number of housing units created, reduce barriers to housing production, and set goals for the production of housing affordable to the lowest income households (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 1640 and House Docket 3379)

- Increase funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP), and state-funded public housing (budget campaigns)


- Establish a right to legal counsel in eviction cases (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 625)

- Allow cities and towns to increase revenue for affordable housing by choosing to establish real estate transfer fees (bill campaign; see Senate Docket 334)

For fact sheets and more details, please check out our Present Policy Campaigns page.


Join Us to Increase Access to Mass ID Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Join Us to Increase Access to Mass ID Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

#EveryoneNeedsID

Posted June 13, 2017; last updated December 31, 2018

* Please join with us today for our final push to pass the #EveryoneNeedsID Mass ID access bill this legislative session by calling House Speaker Robert DeLeo (617-722-2500) and House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Sánchez (617-722-2990) in support of Senate Bill 2568. Thanks! *

Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities. ID is required for a broad range of life activities, such as:


·         Applying for jobs

·         Enrolling in education programs

·         Getting a library card

·         Picking up a package from the post office

·         Opening financial accounts

·         Entering certain government buildings

·         Accessing services

·         Interacting with law enforcement

Join our campaign to pass legislation to eliminate fees and reduce barriers to accessing Massachusetts identification cards by people experiencing homelessness: An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families, filed by Senator Harriette Chandler (Senate Bill 2568, formerly Senate Bill 1906) and Representative Kay Khan (House Bill 2737). The bill calls on the Registry of Motor Vehicles to waive the $25 fee for Mass IDs for applicants who are experiencing homelessness, and to accept alternative verifications of Massachusetts residency from state agencies and social service agencies.

The latest fact sheet is linked here as a PDF. Please sign our one-minute online action to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Sánchez, asking them to move the bill forward.

 *If your organization would like to become an official endorser of this campaign, please 
complete this form.*

Bill History:

The Joint Committee on Transportation heard the bills at two hearings, on November 13, 2017 and December 6, 2017. The Committee then reported out favorably House Bill 2737/Senate Bill 1906 on December 27, 2017. House Bill 2737 was sent to House Ways and Means, and Senate Bill 1906 was sent to Senate Ways and Means.

Senate Ways and Means made slight modifications to Senate Bill 1906, and reported it out favorably as Senate Bill 2568 on June 21, 2018. The full Senate unanimously passed An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families, 37-0, on June 28, 2018. The bill officially was assigned to the House Committee on Ways and Means on July 2, 2018. The newest fact sheet is here. The Boston Globe and the Associated Press covered the bill's movement. 

Taking Action:

Please help us pass the Mass ID Access Bill. You can do this by:

- Calling House Speaker Robert DeLeo (617-722-2500) and House Ways and Means Chair Jeff Sánchez (617-722-2990) in support of Senate Bill 2568.

Downloading our letter template, adding in your thoughts and contact information, and mailing one copy to Speaker DeLeo and one to Chairman Sánchez. 

- Signing and sharing our updated
 one-minute online action to Speaker DeLeo and Chairman Sánchez, asking them to move forward Senate Bill 2568, An Act to provide identification to homeless youth and families.

Sharing testimony on why you think it is important to pass this bill now. 

- And more.

Organizational Endorsers (as of December 2018):

ACT UP/Boston

Action Inc.

Allston-Brighton Health Collaborative

Arise for Social Justice

Boston Center ofr Independent Living

Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee

Boston Tenant Coalition

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Cambridge and Somerville Housing and Welfare Coalition

Children’s League of Massachusetts

Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association

City of Springfield

Coastline Elderly Services

Community Action Agency of Somerville, Inc.

DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services

Disability Policy Consortium

Domus Incorporated

Father Bill's & Mainspring

First Church Shelter, Cambridge

Gates of Hope Inc.

The Haven Project

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

Hearts of Hope Inc.

Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center

Homeless Empowerment Project

Homeless Prevention Council of Lower Cape Cod

Homeless Youth Providers Engaging Together

HomeStart Inc.

Housing Families Inc.

Inclusion Advocacy Collaboration

Justice Resource Institute/YouthHarbors

LUK, Inc.

Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice at Bridgewater State University

Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Massachusetts Bar Association

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

Massachusetts Fair Housing Center

Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance

MassEquality

My Brother’s Table

National Association of Social Workers-Massachusetts Chapter

Pax Christi USA-Beverly

Pine Street Inn

Poor People's United Fund

Roca

Rosie’s Place

Samaritans Steps

School on Wheels

ServiceNet, Inc.

Somerville Homeless Coalition

Springfield No One Leaves/Nadie Se Mude

Stop Bullying Coalition

Tapestry Health

Wayside Youth & Family Support Network

Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Women’s Lunch Place

Y2Y Harvard Square

Resources:

Read more about the November 13th hearing, watch videos from the December 6th hearing on our YouTube channel, and read testimonies from both hearings below: 

- Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 11-13-17 testimony (and PDF) and 12-6-18 testimony
- Homeless Empowerment Project
- Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth
- Y2Y Harvard Square
- Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Read direct media coverage of the bill:

- Spare Change News: House bill would waive fees, eliminate address requirement for state IDs (8-1-18)
- Beacon Hill Roll Call: Homeless [people] obtaining IDs (S. 2568) - Wicked Local Norwood (7-29-18)
- Boston Globe: State considers new ID for homeless [people] (6-28-18)
- Boston Globe: When public buildings put up a wall (12-21-17)


See related coverage on this issue:

- Boston Globe:When "public" buildings cease being fully public (12-17-17)
- American Bar Association:Proving I exist: Strategies for assisting youth in obtaining identification documents (10-2-17)
- Washington Post: The invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID (6-15-17)

For more information, please contact Molly and Kelly.
Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Please Actively Support House Bill 695 and Senate Bill 46, and Speak Up for Human Rights and Dignity!

Last updated December 11, 2018

*Please sign our latest online action in support of the bill of rights.*

Summary


An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (House Bill 695) and An Act creating a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness (Senate Bill 46) would establish a definition of homelessness and protect key rights of all residents, whether or not they are experiencing homelessness. The bills are modeled after landmark legislation passed in 2012 in Rhode Island. Similar legislation has passed since in Connecticut, Illinois, and Puerto Rico.

Bill Status

The bills were filed in January 2017 by lead sponsors Representative William Smitty Pignatelli and then-Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. House Bill 695 was sent to the Joint Committee on Housing, and was heard by the committee on June 20, 2017. It was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing on July 10, 2017. Now the bill is awaiting action by the House Committee on Ways and Means. Senate Bill 46 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and was heard on November 21, 2017. The Senate version was reported out favorably and now is awaiting action by the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The bills are nearly identical to House Bill 1129 from the 2015-2016 session. That bill was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing in December 2015 and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means. In spite of considerable support, the bill did not pass last session. We are hopeful that the momentum from last session and the pressing need to uphold human rights and dignity will propel the bills forward this session.

Why Is It Necessary to Create a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness?

People experiencing homelessness often are subjected to discrimination and mistreatment based on their housing status. Such discrimination compounds and intersects with other forms of discrimination an individual may experience related to their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability status, age, etc. The bill of rights is a guide for state and local officials emphasizing that people experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts. The bill of rights seeks to outline those rights so as to prevent discrimination based on housing status. The legislation recognizes the increased prevalence of homelessness in Massachusetts due to widespread economic hardship, the insufficient availability of safe, affordable housing, and a weakened social safety net.

“No person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is experiencing homelessness.”

The rights specifically included in the bill of rights are the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to equal treatment by municipal agencies (such as police departments), freedom from discrimination in employment, the right to emergency medical care, the right to register to vote and to vote, freedom from disclosure of records, and the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of property.

The bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness seeks to have the rights outlined to be treated as a statement of legislative intent, as a guide for state and municipal agencies.

Click here for the legislative pages for the bill: House Bill 695 and Senate Bill 46.

List of Endorsing Organizations (as of December 2018):

Action Inc.

Allston Brighton Health Collaborative

American Friends Service Committee Material Aid & Advocacy Program

Arise for Social Justice

Boston Center for Independent Living

Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee

Boston Tenant Coalition

Boston Women's Fund

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance

Children's League of Massachusetts

City Life Vida Urbana

City Mission Boston

Coastline Elderly Services

Community Action Agency of Somerville, Inc.

Community Works

DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services

Dismas House of Massachusetts

Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston

Family Promise MetroWest

First Baptist Church, Everett

First Church Shelter

Gates of Hope Inc.

The Haven Project

The Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts

Hearts of Hope Inc.

Horizons for Homeless Children

Housing Families Inc.

Homeless Empowerment Project

Homeless Youth Providers Engaging Together

HomeStart

Inclusion Advocacy Collaborative

Justice Resource Institute/Youth Harbors

Martin Richard Institute for Social Justice at Bridgewater State University

Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

Massachusetts Coalition on LGBTQ Youth

Massachusetts Fair Housing Center

Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance

My Brother's Table

National Association of Social Workers-Massachusetts Chapter

New Bedford Homeless Advocates Inc.

Poor People's United Fund

Roca

Rosie’s Place

Samaritans Steps, Inc.

ServiceNet, Inc.

Somerville Homeless Coalition

South Congregational Church

Spare Change News/Homeless Empowerment Project

Stop Bullying Coalition

Tapestry Health

Wayside Youth

Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Women's Lunch Place

Y2Y Harvard Square



Download the bill fact sheet here (updated 12-11-18). 

Read the Coalition's testimony for the June 20, 2017 Housing hearing and for the November 21, 2017 Children and Families hearing, as well as testimony from people experiencing homelessness that was gathered previously: Sherry's testimonyCharlie's testimony, and shelter residents' testimony.

Add your organization as an official endorser of the campaign here.

Protect the Rights of All Residents of Massachusetts, Regardless of Housing Status: Actively Support the Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness, House Bill 695/Senate Bill 46!

Speaking Up with and for Immigrant Households

Taking Action Against Trump Administration Efforts to Harm Immigrants and Their Families

December 10, 2018

This International Human Rights Day, the Coalition was proud to join with over 210,000 immigrants, immigrant advocates, and concerned community members to call on the Trump Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fully and immediately to withdraw a misguided and harmful proposed rule on inadmissibility of immigrants into the U.S. on public charge grounds. You can read our comments here (PDF), or in the images below.

** It is important to note that the proposed rule has not been implemented, so immigrant households should continue to participate in housing and benefit programs, and apply for needed benefits at this time. See this Health Care for All Massachusetts compilation for links for legal advice. **

To learn more about the proposed rule and efforts to stop it, please go to https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/. Read strong public comments submitted by Massachusetts state entities, including the Executive Office of Health and Human Services, MassHealth, Department of Public Health, Department of Transitional Assistance, Office of Refugees and Immigrants, Health Connector, and Department of Housing and Community Development.

Special thanks to our colleagues at the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute for their leadership on this issue!


Attachment1 Public Charge Comments Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless 1Attachment1 Public Charge Comments Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless 2Attachment1 Public Charge Comments Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless 3
Celebrating Budget Victories and Pushing for Key Gubernatorial Veto Overrides

Celebrating Budget Victories and Pushing for Key Gubernatorial Veto Overrides

July 27, 2018; last updated July 30th

Yesterday, Governor Charlie Baker signed into law parts of the FY'19 state budget, vetoed other sections, and amended certain outside sections. You can see the full $41.7 billion budget here. Our budget chart will be updated shortly to reflect the full list of budget outcomes. See our email update and call-to-action here.

There are many victories to celebrate, including increased funding to address youth and young adult homelessness; more funds to prevent homelessness among families with children as well as elders, youth, and people with disabilities; the elimination of the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC), and increased funds for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP), to name just a few.

While the Governor issued very few vetoes when he signed the FY'19 budget yesterday
(for a total of $48.9 million in cuts), we are working with legislative and advocacy allies to override vetoes and language changes related to Emergency Assistance family shelter and services (EA, via the Department of Housing and Community Development administrative line item, 7004-0099) and Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000 and outside sections). The Legislature must take swift action, as formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle end this Tuesday, July 31st.

The Governor struck language regarding in-person applications for Emergency Assistance family shelter. A veto override would:

- Make sure that DHCD has sufficient staff available to accept in-person EA application in the 10 cities and towns where DHCD had staff as of January 1, 2018
- Allow DHCD to accept in-person applications in additional cities and towns that are geographically convenient for families experiencing homelessness
- Require DHCD to report to House and Senate Committees on Ways and Means on their plans, financially and operationally, for maintaining these local offices and on any plans to increase the use of phones in the EA application process

Our EA fact sheet is here. Please share it with your state legislators.

The Governor also vetoed language and issued outside section amendments related to lifting the family cap rule in TAFDC, trying to tie lifting the family cap with a terrible proposal to count the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) of adults with disabilities when calculating TAFDC benefits-- adults with disabilities so severe that they qualify for federal benefits. As with previous iterations of this proposal, this change would leave thousands of children and families without TAFDC assistance or with dramatically reduced grants. (See TAFDC veto text and outside section amendments.)

** Action Step: Please contact your State Representative and Senator TODAY to push Legislative Leadership to override the Governor's vetoes and reject the TAFDC income-counting proposal. You can find your legislators' contact information via www.wheredoivotema.com or call the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000. Swift action is necessary, as noted above, the Legislature will end formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle by the end of the day this Tuesday, July 31st.** 

July 30th action alerts for State Legislators:

House message: https://conta.cc/2M1jhOx 

Senate message: https://conta.cc/2Ov9di7

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Please stay tuned. Thank you for your collaboration!                            
The Legislature's FY'19 Budget Has Been Sent to the Governor

The Legislature's FY'19 Budget Has Been Sent to the Governor

We are pleased that the budget contains most of the Coalition's top priorities. Please ask Governor Baker to preserve key language and investments.

July 18, 2018, last updated July 25th

After an extended period of budget negotiations, the FY’19 Budget Conference Committee has completed its work, and has sent their recommendations to the full House and Senate. The $41.88 billion Conference Committee budget, House Bill 4800, incorporates many positive recommendations, including:

·         Senate-proposed funding of $3.3 million for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         Senate-proposed language on maintaining the expanded definition of family for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and $20 million in funding, exceeding the House’s and Senate’s initial recommendations, as well as the Coalition’s request of $18.5 million

·         Senate-proposed language on the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program to ensure that the Department of Housing and Community Development continues to take in-person applications in the ten cities and towns with offices as of January 1, 2018, as well as Senate-proposed language to protect families that exceed the income eligibility limit for fewer than 90 days from being terminated (EA, line item 7004-0101), matching parts of the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House-proposed language and funding on eliminating the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), so that participants experiencing homelessness will receive the full EAEDC grant: $303.70/month for a household of one, instead of the reduced grant of $92.80/month for a household of one, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House-proposed funding of $100 million on the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         Senate-proposed language to increase the maximum benefit under the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) from $8,000/year/family up to $10,000, matching the Coalition’s Conference Committee request

·         House and Senate improvements to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 403-2000 and Outside Sections): House and Senate language on eliminating the family cap rule, Senate-proposed language on implementing the family cap repeal by January 1, 2019, Senate-proposed language on increasing the annual children’s clothing allowance to $350/child, and House-proposed language to increase the TAFDC asset limit from $2,500 to $5,000.

Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include Senate-proposed language to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation before being able to access EA. (Related legislation, House Bill 659, still is pending in House Ways and Means.)

A full chart summarizing how the Coalition's priorities fared at each step of the budget process can be found here.

The Conference Committee budget was approved by the House and Senate on July 18th, and sent to Governor Charlie Baker. He has 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. With the Legislature scheduled to end formal sessions for this two-year legislative cycle on Tuesday, July 31st, there will not be much time for legislators to override any gubernatorial vetoes, so please reach out to Governor Baker today to ask him to preserve the important investments and budget language listed above. ** Here's our one-minute online action to the Governor for you to sign and share, as well as the Coalition's letter to the Governor. **

In addition, please take a few minutes to thank your State Senator and Representative for their efforts to create a strong budget, and ask them to push for any needed veto overrides. You can look up your elected officials on www.wheredoivotema.com

Please also thank the Conference Committee members: Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola, as well as Senate President Harriette Chandler and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.


Thank you for your sustained advocacy!
FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Advocating for the Strongest Possible Conference Committee Budget

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Advocating for the Strongest Possible Conference Committee Budget

June 1, 2018; last updated July 9th


** Please sign and share our one-minute online action to the Conference Committee Chairs, Senator Karen Spilka and Representative Jeff Sanchez, as well as our one-minute online action to your State Representative and Senator in support of the Coalition's Conference Committee budget priorities. Thanks! As of July 9th, the Conference Committee budget has yet to be released.**

At the end of May, the State Senate wrapped up their budget. Yesterday, Legislative Leadership announced the three House and three Senate members who will make up the FY'19 budget Conference Committee. They are Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely, Senate Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Viriato (Vinny) deMacedo, House Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sánchez, House Ways and Means Vice Chair Stephen Kulik, and House Ways and Means Ranking Minority Member Todd Smola.

Please reach out to your State Legislators and the conferees to ask them to do all they can to make sure that the final budget includes:


Your advocacy will be critical in the weeks ahead. The Conference Committee will aim to complete their work in June, in advance of the July 1st start of fiscal year 2019.

Please stay tuned as this page will be further updated with additional materials.

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6/24 Forum in Jamaica Plain: A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness

6/24 Forum in Jamaica Plain: A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness

A Discussion on Family and Individual Homelessness


Sunday, June 24, 2018, 2:00-4:00 PM

First Baptist Church
633 Centre St. 
Jamaica Plain, MA 02130
Facebook event page

Thank you to everyone who joined us! Together we can help to end homelessness.

Speakers:

• Lynnette Martin, Advocate/Mother who recently experienced homelessness
“Testimony of a Homeless Mom…a Cold Overnight in March”

• Dustin Pardy, Advocate/Member of the Boston Youth Action Board
“Taking Action to End Youth and Young Adult Homelessness”

• State Representative Jeffrey Sanchez, Representative for the 15th Suffolk District, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
“Help for People Experiencing Homelessness in the Proposed 2019 State Budget”

• State Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative for the 25th Middlesex District
“Improving Access to Emergency Shelter for Families”

• Kelly Turley, Associate Director, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
“How We Can Help”


Sponsors:


Advocacy Network to End Family Homelessness, Boston Tenant Coalition, City Mission, First Baptist Church JP, Jamaica Plain Neighborhood Development Corporation, JP Progressives, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, and Urban Edge.


RSVP:


Please RSVP here.


Accessibility:


First Baptist Church is wheelchair accessible.

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