Advocacy

FY 2019 (4)

FY 2018 (23)

FY 2017 (29)

FY 2016 (8)

FY 2015 (4)

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

May 14, 2018, last updated on May 25th

*Read about the Senate debate outcomes here and below. * 

As we posted previously, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("Senate Ways and Means" or "SWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth on May 10th. Read about key highlights in our recent Senate budget release action alert

While the SWM budget was strong, we worked with Senators who filed several key amendments. Thank you to everyone who signed our one-minute online action and asked their State Senator to cosponsor these amendments and actively support them in caucuses, conversations with Senate Leadership, and debates. Please see our overview sheet for Senatorsamendment action alert, and sample script, as well as more details below.

- Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L'Italien filed Amendment #533 to ensure that families with children that are experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines. The amendment would add language to the DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099, to maintain in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options.)EA amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome: We are happy to report that this amendment passed unanimously on a roll call vote! We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language on maintaining in-person access to Emergency Assistance applications, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator L'Italien for speaking on the Senate floor about the importance of maintaining statewide in-person access to applications, and to Senate President Harriette Chandler, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, and Senate Ways and Means Vice Chair Joan Lovely for all of their work to pass the amendment.

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-Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT):  We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. Senator Jamie Eldridge filed Amendment #680 to tweak the language in line item 7004-9316 so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21, instead of no more than $3 millionRAFT amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome:
 We are happy to report that this amendment passed! (It passed on a simple voice vote, not a roll call vote.) We will work to make sure that the Conference Committee includes the Senate language and funding for RAFT, and will share next steps soon. In the meantime, please thank your Senator for passing it. Special thanks to Senator Eldridge for speaking on the Senate floor on the critical need to expand access to and funding for homelessness prevention resources for individuals, and to Senate Leadership for their work to pass the amendment.

- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen filed Amendment #453 to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of only $92.80/month. Based on FY’18 numbers year-to-date, an estimated 542 individuals would benefit each month from this change, at a cost of only $1.4 million/year. The amendment would add language to line item 4408-1000. EAEDC amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome: Unfortunately, this amendment was rejected, but the language still is alive for the Conference Committee deliberations, as it was included in the House version of the budget. Please thank your Senator if they are listed in the amendment link above as a cosponsor.

To call your Senator, you can dial the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000. You also can look up who your Senator is via www.wheredoivotema.com. Please let us know if you receive any feedback from your Senator in response to your outreach.

We anticipate the Conference Committee members officially will be named by the first week in June. The Conference Committee will aim to develop a consensus budget by late June, before the new fiscal year begins on July 1st. We will send out a follow-up action alert then with the next steps.

Thank you for all of your advocacy!













FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The Senate Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

May 10, 2018, last updated May 11th

Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("Senate Ways and Means" or "SWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $41.42 billion budget was created under the leadership of Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka and Senate President Harriette Chandler. Click here for a complete list of Senate Ways and Means members and committee staff.

The budget was very strong on homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits issues. Read about key highlights in our recent action alert.

Linked here and pasted below is our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities.

While the budget was strong, we are working with Senators to file several key amendments:

- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen is filing an amendment to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of $92.80/month.

-Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. We are working with Senator Jamie Eldridge to tweak the language so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21.

- Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L'Italien is filing an amendment to ensure that families experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines.

We also are working with partner agencies on additional homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments. Check back on this page for more details on Senate budget amendments after the filing deadline of Monday, May 14th at noon. The full Senate will debate the budget starting on Tuesday, May 22nd.

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Massachusetts Youth Count 2018

Massachusetts Youth Count 2018

Posted February 5, 2018; last updated May 16th

** The online survey is available now at these links: English and Spanish. **

The Coalition is proud to be a lead collaborator once again with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the 5th annual Massachusetts Youth Count. The Massachusetts Youth Count mobilizes youth, young adults, Continua of Care, and youth providers 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 Monday, April 23rd - Sunday, May 13th (with some communities doing additional outreach at events in the weeks before and after the Youth Count). The online survey is available now at these links: English and SpanishHere are the printable (paper) survey tools in EnglishSpanish, Portuguese, and Haitian Kreyol. 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.

An overview of the 2018 Youth Count is here (PDF, updated 4-9-18). An outreach flyer (with QR code) in English is linked and below, with a Spanish version here. Access an online folder with sample social media posts and other key documents here.

youth count flyer 2018

We are thrilled to be partnering with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth to recruit Youth Ambassadors for this year's Youth Count. Learn more here (general self-nomination form) and here (Commission on LGBTQ Youth outreach flyer) and help spread the word.

Youth Count outreach initiative flyer


Thank you to everyone who participated in this year's Youth Count conference on Thursday, February 15th at the College of the Holy Cross. The conference agenda is here (PDF).

Want to know more about the outcomes of last year's Youth Count? *Check out the final 2017 Massachusetts Youth Count report here and the statewide summary. Please also see the separate summaries on the findings from each region, as well as for LGBTQ youthyouth with foster care involvementpregnant and parenting youth, and youth with criminal justice system involvement.*

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.

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

April 13, 2018, last updated April 23rd

The House budget debate is underway! The debate began today (April 23rd) and is scheduled to go until Thursday.

Friday, April 13th, was the deadline for State Representatives to file amendments to the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or "HWM")
 fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations. We are working with Representatives Marjorie Decker and Jim O'Day to file key amendments related to the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101), housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults (line items 4000-0007 and 4000-0300), and the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316).

Please ask your Representative to cosponsor the amendments listed below today. You can find out your Representative's name and contact information via www.wheredoivotema.com. If you do reach out to your Representative, let us know the response. Here is our April 18th action alert.

Key Amendments

Overview sheet for Representatives 

* See a list of amendment cosponsors, and our longer list of important amendments, on this House amendment Google Doc. This document will be updated frequently. *

- The HWM budget would increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) from $15 million to $17 million, but it does not include the expanded definition of family so that unaccompanied youth, elders, and people with disabilities also can access RAFT homelessness prevention resources. RAFT amendment fact sheet (updated 4-18-18)

Representative Marjorie Decker has filed a RAFT amendment, Amendment #1328, to restore the expanded definition of family, increase overall funding to $18.5 million, and make sure that at least $3 million will be made available to households without children under 21.

Follow the amendment link above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, p
lease ask your Representative to cosponsor this amendment through the online LAWS system. 


- The House Ways and Means budget would retain harmful, current eligibility language that allows the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to deny Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101) shelter access to families that have not yet stayed in places not meant for human habitation.

Representative Marjorie Decker has filed two Emergency Assistance amendments: Amendment #1301 to create a $300,000 pilot to allow otherwise eligible families to access EA before having to prove that they have stayed in places not meant for human habitation and Amendment #1308 to ensure that DHCD does not further restrict families' rights to apply for EA in person by maintaining in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options.) EA amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment links above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor these amendments through the online LAWS system. 



- The House Ways and Means budget would provide $1 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25 who are experiencing homelessness out on their own (line item 4000-0007). This would be an increase over the $675,000 FY'18 funding level, but less than the amount needed to provide adequate statewide resources. 

Representative Jim O'Day has filed two youth homelessness amendments: Amendment #1173 to increase the funding for youth housing and services to $4 million in line item 4000-0007 and Amendment #1177 to include specific language in the Executive Office of Health and Human Services line item to provide $150,000 for the work of the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth in line item 4000-0300. Youth homelessness amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment links above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor these amendments through the online LAWS system. 


- Currently, the Coalition is working with Representative Kay Khan and Senate President Harriette Chandler to move forward legislation to ease access to Massachusetts IDs for people experiencing homelessness (House Bill 2737/Senate Bill 1906). Both bills are pending in their respective Committee on Ways and Means.

Representative Khan has filed an amendment, Amendment #802, to incorporate the bill language into the FY'19 budget. Mass ID amendment fact sheet

Follow the amendment link above to see if your Representative has signed on already. If not, please ask your Representative to cosponsor this amendment through the online LAWS system. 

Please also see our House Ways and Means budget page for our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared in the HWM budget, as compared to our budget priorities.

Check back on this page for more details and updates.

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FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The House Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: The House Ways and Means Budget Has Been Released

April 11, 2018

Today, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or "HWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $40.98 billion budget is the first budget under the leadership of House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez. 

Here is our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities.

Check back on this page for more details on House budget amendments. Amendments are due by this Friday, April 13th at 5 p.m. The full House will debate the budget the week of April 23rd.

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Sign Our Online Action to Legislators in Support of Key FY'19 Budget Issues

Sign Our Online Action to Legislators in Support of Key FY'19 Budget Issues

March 8, 2018

Thank you for taking action with us! Click on the image to go to the action page, or click here.
Legislative Action Day 2018: Thank You for Joining Us on Tuesday, February 27th

Legislative Action Day 2018: Thank You for Joining Us on Tuesday, February 27th

Last updated March 1, 2018

*
Legislative Action Day Follow-Up Action: Please take one-minute to sign our latest online action to support deeper investments in homelessness prevention, housing, cash assistance, and emergency services.*

Thank you to everyone who participated in Legislative Action Day 2018 on Tuesday, February 27th! The event was held at the Massachusetts State House in Boston, hosted by Representative Jim O'Day. We are grateful to everyone who raised their voice to help end homelessness!

Click here to download the flyer (PDF).

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The day began with registration and a light breakfast at 9 a.m. The legislative speakers included Representative Jim O'Day, Senate President Harriette Chandler, Senator Pat Jehlen, Senator Joe Boncore, and Senator Jamie Eldridge, and State House staffer, Cinda Danh. We also had speakers from Worcester Fellowship, Boston Youth Advisory Board, the Massachusetts Poor People's Campaign, Glass House Shelter Project, Boston Center for Independent Living, Women's Lunch Place, and other allied organizations who shared their lived experiences of homelessness and housing instability. The agenda is available here. (Please note that due to the untimely death of Representative Peter Kocot, a true friend of the Coalition, several of the previously scheduled legislative speakers were be unable to attend.)

Photos from the day are available here. (Thank you to our main photographer, Kevin Lilly!)

Read our press release and media advisory.

Here is some of the Legislative Action Day media and online coverage:

 - Homeless advocates to converge on Massachusetts State House

 - Chandler: State Senate 'ready to go' on housing bill
 - "Homeless, not worthless"

Fact sheets for our overall budget priorities, top four budget priorities (Emergency Assistance, housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program, and the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program), and details about our bill priorities are on the Current Policy Campaigns page. We also have an online spreadsheet with details and status updates on our bill priorities.

A key part of the day were meetings with state legislators and their staff to talk about why participants support investments in housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, income support programs, and related resources. If you are doing additional meetings, here are some tips to help guide your legislative meetings (PDF).

If you met or called your legislators as part of Legislative Action Day, please complete this online response form to share your feedback.


Thank you also to everyone who participated in our training call on Tuesday, February 13th to help participants prepare for the day. 



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Take Action with Us Calling on Elder Affairs to Release the EAEDC Bill

Take Action with Us Calling on Elder Affairs to Release the EAEDC Bill

Please sign and share our online letter to Senator Barbara L'Italien and Representative Danielle Gregoire, the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs

Please sign and share our online action to improve benefits for participants in the state's Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC). House Bill 2077 and Senate Bill 2039 currently are awaiting action by the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, and we need your help to move the EAEDC bills of committee and onto the next step toward passage. Our action is directed to Senator Barbara L'Italien and Representative Danielle Gregoire, the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs.

Here is the EAEDC bill fact sheet.

Thank you!


Take Action with Us Calling on Governor Baker to Release FY'18 Homelessness Funds

Take Action with Us Calling on Governor Baker to Release FY'18 Homelessness Funds

December 28, 2017, last updated January 3, 2018

January 2nd update: Thank you to everyone who took action with us! We heard today that the Governor has released all of the youth homelessness funds (totaling $675,000). We are awaiting final confirmation that the RAFT homelessness prevention funds also willl be released. Here is coverage from State House News and WCVB: http://www.wcvb.com/article/gov-baker-lifts-hold-on-spending-earmarks/14532127 and the Boston Globe: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2018/01/01/baker-withholds-money-for-human-service-programs/f0dLFUjgb35Am34E2WLkSJ/story.html

January 3rd update: The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) still is awaiting confirmation that the increased RAFT funds will be released. 


Please join us in asking Governor Charlie Baker to release key homelessness funds already allocated by the Legislature for fiscal year 2018: $675,000 for housing and services for youth and young adults experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007) and $2 million in homelessness prevention funds for elders, people with disabilities, and youth through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (line item 7004-9316).

Even though the fiscal year is halfway over and there is tremendous need, these funds have not been spent.

Read the Coalition's letter to the Governor here and sign/share our online action today.

You also can reach the Governor's office by calling 617-725-4005, 888-870-7770, or TTY: 617-727-3666.


If you have questions or receive any feedback, please contact Kelly and Tina.

Thank you for taking action with us!
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!

Last updated November 21, 2017

Please join us today (Tuesday, November 21st), at the State House for a hearing on the Senate version of the bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness, Senate Bill 46. 

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Download the 2017-2018 legislative session bill fact sheet here (updated 6-19-17); fact sheet for 11-21-17 hearing.

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

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

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 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 MeansSenate Bill 46 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and will be heard on November 21, 2017.

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. 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:

Allston Brighton Health Collaborative
American Friends Service Committee Material Aid & Advocacy Program
Arise for Social Justice
Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee
Boston Women's Fund
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance
Children's League of Massachusetts
City Life Vida Urbana
City Mission Boston
Community Works
Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston
Family Promise MetroWest
First Baptist Church, Everett
First Church Shelter
Horizons for Homeless Children
Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
My Brother's Table
New Bedford Homeless Advocates Inc.
Poor People's United Fund
Roca
Samaritans Steps, Inc.
ServiceNet, Inc.
Somerville Homeless Coalition
South Congregational Church
Spare Change News/Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP)
Tapestry Health
Women's Lunch Place
Y2Y Harvard Square

(List as of 11-21-17)

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!


Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Last updated December 27, 2017

* Great news! The Joint Committee on Transportation has reported out favorably House Bill 2737/Senate Bill 1906, An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families. House Bill 2737 is now at House Ways and Means, and Senate Bill 1906 is at Senate Ways and Means.*

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 1906) and Representative Kay Khan (House Bill 2737).

The updated fact sheet is linked here as a PDF and posted below. 

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

Current campaign endorsers (as of 11/14/17):

ACT UP/Boston
Allston-Brighton Health Collaborative
Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Cambridge and Somerville Housing and Welfare Coalition
DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services
Domus Incorporated
Father Bill's & Mainspring
First Church Shelter, Cambridge
Gates of Hope Inc.
Hearts of Hope Inc.
Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center
Homeless Empowerment Project
Homeless Prevention Council of Lower Cape Cod
Homeless Youth Providers Engaging Together
Justice Resource Institute/YouthHarbors
LUK, Inc.
Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
MassEquality
Poor People's United Fund
Samaritans Steps
School on Wheels
Wayside Youth & Family Support Network
Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness
Y2Y Harvard Square


The Joint Committee on Transportation heard the bills at two hearings, on November 13, 2017 and December 6, 2017. Read more about the November 13th hearing, watch videos from the December 13th hearing on our YouTube channel, and read testimonies from both hearings below: 

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

See related coverage on this issue:
- Washington Post: "The invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID" (6-15-17)
- American Bar Association:
"Proving I exist: Strategies for assisting youth in obtaining identification documents"(10-2-17)
- Boston Globe:
"When ‘public’ buildings cease being fully public" (12-17-17)
- Boston Globe: "When public buildings put up a wall" (12-21-17)


For more information, please contact Kelly at kelly @mahomeless.org
The Senate Has Passed the RAFT Veto Override

The Senate Has Passed the RAFT Veto Override

November 2,. 2017

The Massachusetts Senate voted this afternoon to restore funding and expanded eligibility language to the RAFT homelessness prevention program so that unaccompanied youth/young adults, elders, and people with disabilities can access critical resources to avoid or exit homelessness. Thank you to everyone who has been weighing in in support of the veto override! Stay tuned for implementation updates here: www.mahomeless.org/advocacy
The Senate Veto Override Debate Continues

The Senate Veto Override Debate Continues

September 28, 2017; last updated October 18th

** Please see our latest update at http://www.mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/raft-override **


The Senate continues to override FY'18 budget vetoes, while the House successfully overrode all of the Governor's vetoes in its chamber. 

During their September 28th veto override debate, the Senate overrode the Governor's elimination of funding for the unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness line item, 4000-0007, by a vote of 35-2. This means that $675,000 now will be restored to the FY'18 budget to once again provide housing and wraparound support services for young people experiencing homelessness out on their own. It previously was overridden in the House on September 13th by a vote of 140-12.

On October 4th, the Senate also took action to override the Governor’s Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000) veto that would have reduced the annual children's clothing allowance from $300 to $250, and struck language requiring advanced notice before eligibility restrictions or benefits cuts are made. This override was particularly important as the Governor was looking to count Supplemental Security Income when determining eligibility for TAFDC which would have rendered an estimated 5,800 families ineligible for TAFDC and/or only eligible for reduced grants. The Senate vote was 35-2, and the House vote was 132-20.


The Senate will be back in formal sessions on October 19th. We will be advocating for the override of the Governor's Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) veto. A Senate override would restore the proposed $2 million increase to RAFT, and restore the language that would allow the program to keep serving unaccompanied youth, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children.

During FY’17, 3,980 households were served by RAFT. This included 124 households who previously were ineligible under the more limited definition of family, 56% of which were households with disabilities. With $15 million in FY’18 (including the earmark of $2 million for households without minor children), we anticipate that the state would be able to prevent homelessness for an estimated 4,878 households, based on the average FY’16 RAFT expenditure of $3,075/household (including the $539 administrative fee for each household approved). According to the 2015-2016 RAFT report published by the Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts, the state’s FY’16 RAFT investment of $12.5 million saved the Commonwealth an estimated $137 million. This veto override already was approved by a 135-20 vote in the House.

Please sign our updated online action on the RAFT veto override to State Senators here. Stay tuned for more details on this page; read more about our original list of veto override requests here.

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Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

July 17, 2017; last updated August 17th; see also http://www.mahomeless.org/advocacy/item/senate-veto-override-debate for Senate debate updates.

Governor Charlie Baker just issued his FY'18 budget vetoes. Among the $320 million in vetoes were cuts to important language and funding related to homelessness, housing, and benefits programs. Fortunately, he does not have the final word. The Legislature can override his vetoes with 2/3 votes from both the House and Senate. Help make that happen by signing our one-minute online action to State Legislators.

What did he cut?

The Governor zeroed out the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item, 4000-0007, saying that the $675,000 appropriated by the Legislature was too small: "I am vetoing this item because it is too small to be effective at the enacted level of funding." (Fortunately, this veto did not cut the funding for the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. $150,000 will be provided for those initiatives through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services administrative line item-- even though there is no direct language/earmark.) See our latest campaign fact sheet here.

He also eliminated the $2 million increase to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and struck the language that would allow the program to keep serving unaccompanied youth, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children.

In the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), the Governor reduced the annual children's clothing allowance from $300 to $250, and struck language requiring advanced notice before eligibility restrictions or benefits cuts are made. This is particularly concerning as the Governor is looking to count Supplemental Security Income when determining eligibility for TAFDC and render an estimated 5,800 families ineligible for TAFDC and/or have their grants reduced.

The Governor also eliminated language from the Department of Housing and Community Development administrative line item (line item 7004-0099) that allows families participating in the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) to retain preferences and priorities for long-term state-funded subsidized housing opportunities.


In some good news, the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, line item 7004-9024, increase to $92.7 million was approved.

We already started to push for veto overrides and will push for supplemental funding for programs that were vetoed. As noted above, the Legislature can restore language and funding by 2/3 votes in both the House and Senate. 


** Please sign our online action to State Legislators, asking them to override these vetoes swiftly. **

Please also join the Coalition in letting Governor Charlie Baker know that you are disappointed in his cuts to key programs like youth homelessness, RAFT, and TAFDC. Click here for the Governor's contact information. ** You also can call your legislators via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

If you have any feedback from the Governor's office or from your State Representative and Senator, please share it with us: kelly @mahomeless.org or call 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you so much for your continued support and advocacy. Please stay tuned and engaged!


Related Budget Materials:

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Take Action with Us to Restore Funding for Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Take Action with Us to Restore Funding for Youth and Young Adults Experiencing Homelessness

Youth without homes can't wait

September 11, 2017, updated September 18th

Please invite your State Representative and Senator to join us this Tuesday, September 19th for a briefing at the State House on the need to restore funding for housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. See our campaign fact sheet, media advisory, and below for additional briefing details. To find out who your legislators are, use the Legislature's search feature  or go to www.wheredoivotema.com.


This event is organized by the Coalition and hosted by Representative Jim O'Day, Senator Harriette Chandler, Representative Kay Khan, and Representative Marjorie Decker. 

We also have room for a limited number of members and supporters to join us as well. RSVP here if you would like to attend.

If you haven't signed our online petition asking the Legislature to override the Governor's youth homelessness and other key vetoes, please click here and enter your address at the bottom to get started.

Who: Legislators, staffers, youth and young adults experiencing homelessness, providers, advocates, and others
What: Legislative briefing on restoring youth and young funding in the FY'18 state budget
When: Tuesday, September 19th, 1-2:30 p.m.
Where: Massachusetts State House, House Members' Lounge, 3rd floor (near the House Chamber)
RSVP: Online here or by emailing Kelly

youth budget campaign fact sheet, 9-18-17, page 1youth budget campaign fact sheet, 9-18-17, page 2