Advocacy

FY 2018 (14)

FY 2017 (29)

FY 2016 (8)

FY 2015 (4)

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

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 fact sheet is linked here as a PDF and posted above. If your organization would like to become an official endorser of this campaign, please complete this form.

See related coverage on this issue from the Washington Post: "The invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID" (6-15-17).

For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at kelly @mahomeless.org. 
The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities

The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities

Coalition’s 2017-2018 Legislative Session Bill Priorities: Preventing Homelessness and Improving Quality of Life for Families, Youth, Elders, and People with Disabilities
Last updated 4-6-17


Overview PDF (updated 3-13-17)

1.) An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth
     Lead Sponsors: Representative James O’Day and Senator Patricia Jehlen
     House Bill 2077 (formerly House Docket 2295) and Senate Bill 2039 (formerly Senate Docket 2089)
     Fact sheet (updated 4-6-17)


This bill would: 
  • Increase monthly grants under the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) to match the benefit levels provided under the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program for households of comparable size
  • Remove the 70% benefit reduction/penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness, who have their average grants reduced from $303.70/month to $92.80/month
  • Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
  • Create an annual cost of living adjustment for EAEDC program participants

2.) An Act Providing a Homeless Bill of Rights/An Act Creating a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness
     Lead Sponsors: Representative William Smitty Pignatelli and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry
     House Bill 695 (formerly House Docket 1113) and Senate Bill 46 (formerly Senate Docket 1548)
     Fact sheet (updated 4-5-17); organizational endorsement description; online organizational endorsement form
     H.695 sent to the Joint Committee on Housing; S.46 sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities


 These bills would:
  • Ensure that people experiencing homelessness have the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts by seeking to prevent discrimination based on housing status
  • Reinforce the rights to move freely in public spaces, receive equal treatment by municipal agencies, experience freedom from discrimination in employment, receive emergency medical care, register to vote and to vote, experience freedom from unauthorized disclosure of records (in accordance with relevant laws), and have a reasonable expectation of privacy of property
  • Outline these rights as a statement of legislative intent, as a guide for state and municipal agencies

3.) An Act to Further Provide a Rental Arrearage Program
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
     House Bill 84 (formerly House Docket 1250)
     Fact sheet on H.659 and H.84
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities


This bill would reestablish a rental arrearage program under the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA), based on the successful homelessness prevention program administered by the Department for many years. The new program would continue to provide up to four months of assistance to pay for back rent or mortgage payments, and now would serve families, individuals, and unaccompanied youth with incomes up to 130% of the federal poverty guidelines. Agencies participating in the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness would collaborate with DTA to refer potential participants and provide wraparound support services.  


4.) An Act to Protect Families Experiencing Homelessness from Having to Sleep in Unsafe Places
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Marjorie Decker
     House Bill 659 (formerly House Docket 1245)
     Fact sheet on H.659 and H.84organizational endorsement form for bill and budget campaigns
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Housing


This bill would direct the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to provide Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter to otherwise eligible families with children without requiring families to prove that they already have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation, such as a car, emergency room, or campground.


5.) An Act to End Child Homelessness
     Lead Sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
     House Bill 115 (forrmerly House Docket 969)   
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities  
                                                                                                           

This bill would:
  • Protect many children and families who are at imminent risk or experiencing homelessness from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation                     
  • Require the Department of Children and Families (DCF), in consultation with the Department of Housing and Community Development to conduct an assessment to ensure that no child under the age of 18 would be forced to stay in a place not meant for human habitation upon a household’s eviction from subsidized housing or termination from a publicly funded shelter
  • For children at risk of having to stay in such conditions, DCF and DHCD would develop and implement a plan to ensure that they are housed in a safe location, with every reasonable effort being made to keep those children in the care and custody of their parents/guardians

6.) An Act to Prevent Homelessness among Recipients of Transitional Assistance
     Lead sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
     House Bill 114 (formerly House Docket 968)
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities         


This bill, also known as the No Place Like Home Bill, would:

  • Establish a homelessness prevention and early intervention program within the Department of Transitional Assistance to give DTA the tools to help families and individuals remain housed.
  • Direct DTA to conduct housing stability screenings for families and individuals participating in DTA’s cash and nutritional assistance programs
  • Create a statewide homelessness prevention fund at DTA, targeting the lowest income family and individual households who are often ineligible for, or unable to access, other resources in a timely way
  • Create escrow accounts for families and individuals experiencing homelessness while they are participating in the Department’s cash assistance programs. Currently, households have their monthly cash assistance grants reduced if they do not have housing expenses. Under the No Place Like Home bill, these funds would be captured and directed into an escrow account to be used by the household to help in obtaining or retaining housing

7.) An Act to Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families
      Lead Sponsors: Representative Kay Khan and Senator Harriette Chandler
      House Bill 2737 (formerly House Docket 2272) and Senate Bill 1906 (formerly Senate Docket 1467)
      Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Transportation


This bill would direct the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) to eliminate fees and reduce barriers for people experiencing homelessness, unaccompanied youth, and others, if needed to ease access to Massachusetts identification cards. 

According to preliminary data from the 2016 Massachusetts Youth Count, 15% of unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness reported not being able to access the services and resources needed due to the lack of an identification card.



8.) An Act Relative to the Well Being and Care of a Child
     Lead Sponsors: Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico
     House Bill 85 (formerly House Docket 1262) and Senate Bill 34 (formerly Senate Docket 1762)
     Fact sheet
     Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities  


These bills would eliminate the so-called “family cap rule” that currently prohibits 9,400 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). This punitive and misguided policy has left thousands of Massachusetts families further in poverty. The bill would allow Massachusetts to join 33 other states that do not punish families with such limits on access to vital welfare benefits.


9.) An Act Relative to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program
     Lead Sponsor: Senator Jamie Eldridge
     Senate Bill 719 (formerly Senate Docket 1163)
     Sent to the Joint Committee on Housing


This bill would put the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP) in state statute, and would connect allowable rent levels to the current fair market rents as established by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. (Currently, households receiving new subsidies are expected to find units at or below the 2005 FMRs, unless a waiver is issued. This makes the housing search process more arduous and sometimes impossible, given the current rental climate in Massachusetts.)


For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at 781-595-7570 x17 or kelly @ mahomeless.org.
Legislative Action Day 2017 Press Release

Legislative Action Day 2017 Press Release

Speaking Out for Housing, Homelessness Prevention, and Solutions: Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and Representative Jim O’Day to Host Legislative Action Day Tomorrow at the State House

LAD press release 2 25 17 page 001



LAD press release 2 25 17 page 002

LAD press release 2 25 17 page 003
Legislative Action Day 2017 Thank You List

Legislative Action Day 2017 Thank You List

We are grateful to each of the speakers, volunteers, attendees, and supporters!

Thank you to everyone who attended Legislative Action Day 2017 and special thanks to all of the people who helped to make the event possible!

Alice Harty, National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter
Allie Godsey, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Angela, Rosie's Place
Arlene Snyder, Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Ayanna Clark and the State House Events team
Barbara Barnes, Volunteer
Carlos Betancourt, PACE, Inc.
Catherine Wechsler, Boston College Media Technology Services
Charles Dietrick, Volunteer
Chris Soldt, Boston College Media Technology Services
Councillor Marc McGovern and Jamila Bradley, City of Cambridge
Dick Bauer, Greater Boston Legal Services
Donna Palombo, Boston Ward 21 Democratic Committee
Dr. Amanda Stewart, Boston Children's Hospital
Dr. Jennifer Hoffman, Boston Children's Hospital
Gena Frank, Office of State Representative Smitty Pignatelli
Henry De Lima, Charles Group Consulting
Janelle, Rosie's Place
Kate Saville, Charles Group Consulting
Kevin Lilly, Samaritans Steps
Latrese and Haley House Bakery Cafe
Lauren Leonardis, Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth
Lerae Kroon, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
Lucy Costa, Volunteer
Lynetta, Greater Boston Legal Services
Madeligne Tena, Mandela Residents Cooperative Association
Marybeth Bacigalupo-Worden, Worcester Fellowship
Natalie Hill, Volunteer
Rachel Lochner, Rosie's Place
Representative Denise Provost and Jordan Neerhof
Representative Jim O'Day and Cinda Danh
Representative Kay Khan, Lisa Rosenfeld, and Lauren Matteodo
Representative Kevin Honan and Colette Irving
Roxanne Reddington-Wilde, Action for Boston Community Development
Ruth Bourquin, Greater Boston Legal Services
Senator Jamie Eldridge and Danillo Sena
Senator Joseph Boncore and Kathi Young
Senator Pat Jehlen and Tara Smith
Stuart Figuero, Charles Group Consulting
Legislative Action Day 2017: Thank You for Joining Us on Monday, February 27th at the State House!

Legislative Action Day 2017: Thank You for Joining Us on Monday, February 27th at the State House!

legislative action day 2017 thank you to post

We hope to see you at the State House for our annual Legislative Action Day on Monday, February 27, 2017 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 catered by Haley House Bakery Cafe starting at 9 a.m., with the speaking program from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. In the afternoon, participants will fan out across the State House to meet with legislators and their staff.

Registration is still open. 
Sign up today!


The day will focus on advocating for key FY'18 budget priorities and 2017-2018 bill priorities. For fact sheets and more details, please see our 2017-2018 bill priority page and the Present Policy Campaigns page. The current agenda is here (PDF), and also below, and here is the press release.

Interested in sharing your story and being part of the call to action? Click here.

Want to be an event-day volunteer? Learn more and sign up 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.


After you meet or call your legislators as part of Legislative Action Day, please complete this response form to share your feedback.


agenda for lad 2017 2 24 17 for website page 001


banners page 002

FY'17 Emergency Assistance Family Shelter Supplemental Budget Campaign

FY'17 Emergency Assistance Family Shelter Supplemental Budget Campaign

Take action to protect children and families experiencing homelessness!

February 20, 2017

Governor Baker filed a FY'17 supplemental budget proposal on Friday that includes a request for $21 million more for Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter to address the deficiency in the account (line item 7004-0101). The program currently is funded at $155.5 million for FY'17. Read more here on the state's website.

We will continue to ask the Legislature to provide needed funds and also add in language as a condition on the appropriation so that families no longer have to first stay in places not meant for human habitation.

Proposed language:  "…provided further, that temporary emergency assistance shall be provided to families who on the date of application for emergency assistance have no other feasible alternative housing, as defined in 760 CMR 67.06.1(b), and who, but for not having spent 1 night in a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, including but not limited to a car, park, abandoned building, medical facility, bus or train station, airport or camping ground, would be eligible for emergency assistance under clauses (i), (ii), (iii) or (iv)"

For more details, see our fact sheet.

Please ask your State Representative and Senator to support the EA supplemental funding request, and the inclusion of key line item language to protect families from having to sleep in places not meant for human habitation:
Governor Baker's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Governor Baker's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

January 25, 2017; last updated February 1st

Today, Governor Charlie Baker released his recommendations for the state's 2018 state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. (The budget also is available on the Legislature's website.) Coming in at $40.5 billion, the Governor's budget includes positive and negative recommendations on homelessness. housing, and benefits issues.

On the plus side, Governor Baker proposes an $11 million increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program from $86.5 million to $97.5 million (line item 7004-9024; see related Boston Globe coverage) and $1 million to expand access to housing courts.

He also proposed level funding of $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, line item 4000-0007. This is below our request of $4 million, but at least would not undo important gains on youth homelessness.  

On the minus side, the Governor once again proposed drastic cuts to TAFDC welfare benefits for an estimated 5,800 families with disabilities by counting SSI benefits received by parents (line item 4403-2000; see related Boston Globe coverage). 

The Governor reverted to old RAFT eligibility language in line item 7004-9316, which would cut access to Residential Assistance for Families in Transition homelessness prevention benefits for households without children. For FY'17, the definition of family was expanded to include elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and all household types. The Coalition is seeking to maintain the expanded eligibility and increase overall funding from $13 million to $18.5 million.

The Governor also is seeking to maintain current harmful Emergency Assistance (EA) eligibility criteria that requires many families to prove that they have stayed in a place not meant for human habitation before being approved for EA shelter (line item 7004-0101) or for HomeBASE rehousing/stabilization resources (line item 7004-0108).


More details can be found in our spreadsheet of key line items and our email update dated January 31st.
Strengthening the RAFT Homelessness Prevention Program in FY'18

Strengthening the RAFT Homelessness Prevention Program in FY'18

Working to increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and maintain expanded eligibilty

We are working to increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) homelessness prevention program from $13 million to $18.5 million and to maintain expanded eligbility criteria that has allowed households of all configurations to access RAFT in FY'17: FY'18 RAFT budget campaign fact sheet (updated 3-16-17) 

 Before FY'17, only families with children under 21 could access RAFT. This year, we were able to get language in the final budget that expands eligibility to also include elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household types. This expansion is critical, as homelessness and housing insecurity exist among all household types.


raft endorsement jpg

Please consider supporting this year's RAFT campaign as an organization and as an individual. Read our letter to potential endorsers.

For more information, please contact Tina at tina @ mahomeless.org or 781-595-7570 x16.




Join Us in the Final Weeks of Informal Legislative Sessions to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness: Help Pass House Bill 1129

Join Us in the Final Weeks of Informal Legislative Sessions to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness: Help Pass House Bill 1129

December 21, 2016, updated January 3, 2017

With less than two weeks to go until the end of this two-year legislative session, please help us get House Bill 1129, An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (fact sheet) across the finish line. Currently, the bill is awaiting action by the House Committee on Ways and Means.

We are grateful for the leadership of Representative Smitty Pignatelli, the bill's lead sponsor. Today, he and his legislative aide Gena Frank delivered a letter from 62 House and Senate members in support of the bill to House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey. Please read the letter (PDF) and thank your legislators if they participated.

Find your legislators contact information by going to www.wheredoivotema.com or calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000.

Here is the Coalition's press release on the sign-on letter and related efforts, and here are new testimonies from shelter and service providers in support of the bill.

Thank you!

H1129-joint-letter-to-HWM-chair-12.21.16-page-001
H1129-joint-letter-to-HWM-chair-12.21.16-page-002H1129-joint-letter-to-HWM-chair-12.21.16-page-003
Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness! Join Us in Boston on 10/18

Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness! Join Us in Boston on 10/18

No One Should Have to Sleep in a Place Not Meant for Human Habitation

Posted October 7, 2016; last updated November 30, 2016

Please join us on Tuesday, October 18th in Boston for an event to call for a change in state regulations so as to better serve families experiencing homelessness. Since 2012, many families experiencing homelessness have had to stay in places not meant for human habitation before being able to access shelter and rehousing services through the state's Emergency Assistance (EA) and HomeBASE programs.

According to the most recent report from the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), for the first two months of FY'17, 141 families entered shelter only after first staying in an emergency room, car, campground, transit station, or other unsafe place not intended to be used for human habitation. These families were 22% of all families entering the EA system. We will be gathering on the 18th to amplify the call to end this policy, so families experiencing homelessness can access resources before having to subject themselves to such extreme living conditions.
 We also will be gathering to continue to call for deeper investments in housing that is affordable for the lowest income families and for more homelessness prevention resources.

We are asking the Legislature to include language in the pending FY'17 supplemental budget (House Bill 4506, line item 7004-0101) to require DHCD to provide shelter and services to otherwise eligible families who lack feasible, alternative housing before families are left to stay in places not meant for human habitation (updated fact sheet, 11-30-16). While the Senate included such language in their version of the FY'17 budget, the language was not approved by the House this summer. We hope that the Legislature will reconsider this decision so as to prevent further traumatization and suffering of children and families.
  
Scheduled speakers include:

  • Families who have stayed in places not meant for human habitation
  • Video testimony from Lynnette Martin, a mother from Framingham
  • Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge, lead House sponsor of proposed budget language change
  • Representative Denise Provost of Somerville, lead sponsor of related legislation, House Bill 119, to protect families with children who are being evicted from subsidized housing or terminated from shelter from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation
  • Dr. Mia Kanak, pediatrician from Boston Medical Center and Boston Children's Hospital: Written testimony here
  • Dr. Amanda Stewart, pediatrician from Boston Children's Hospital
  • Kelly Turley, Director of Legislative Advocacy at the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
  • Providers and advocates working on the front lines
Follow these links for the event agenda (PDF) and press release (PDF).

Please see the image above for additional details, and RSVP here or on the Facebook event page

** Please also share this invitation with your state legislators. You can find their information via www.wheredoivotema.com.**

Refreshments will be served.

The event wil be hosted by the Coalition, City Mission Boston, First Church Shelter, Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee, and Poor People's United Fund.

Update:

Check out the Coalition's YouTube channel, EndHomelessnessMA, for videos from this event:

Supplemental Budget Update: Additional Housing and Services Funds Have Been Passed by the Legislature

Supplemental Budget Update: Additional Housing and Services Funds Have Been Passed by the Legislature

Posted September 29, 2016 

Great news! The Massachusetts House of Representatives and Senate passed the FY'16 supplemental budget this afternoon. 

As recommended by Governor Baker, it includes $1 million more for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness (line item 4000-0007).

It also includes $3.6 million for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024).

In addition, the suppplemental budget restores this language to the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108):

SECTION 27. Item 7004-0108 of said section 2 of said chapter 133 is hereby amended by adding the following words:- ; provided further, that no family with a head of household who is over 60 years of age or who is disabled, who is in compliance with the requirements of a housing stabilization plan that reasonably accommodates disabilities, and who otherwise meets all program eligibility requirements shall be denied short-term housing assistance; provided further, that any such family with a head of household who is over 60 years of age or who is disabled shall not have engaged in, or be engaged in, any activity that threatens the health, safety or security of the family, other program participants or program staff.

See https://malegislature.gov/Bills/189/House/H4664, and check back on this page for any updates.

Please thank your State Representative and Senator for these deeper investments and budget language, and to Governor Baker for recommending the funding increases: www.wheredoivotema.com.

Thank you!









Key Housing and Homelessness Override Votes for the FY'17 State Budget

Key Housing and Homelessness Override Votes for the FY'17 State Budget

Veto Override Votes

Originally posted July 31, 2016; updated August 1, 2016:

With just minutes to go until the end of formal legislative sessions for this biennial cycle, the House and Senate passed key housing and homelessness prevention veto overrides. Today's votes followed on last Saturday's vote to override the Governor's veto to the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC). Please contact your State Representative and State Senator to thank them for their important work. (State House switchboard: 617-722-2000; additional contact information via www.wheredoivotema.com)  

Extra special thanks to some of the key legislators behind these victories: Representative Marjorie Decker, Representative Kevin Honan, Representative Byron Rushing, Senator Linda Dorcena Forry, Senator Harriette Chandler, and Senator Jamie Eldridge and to Leadership: Senate President Stan Rosenberg, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka, and House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey.

  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): The Governor maintained the Legislature's $13 million appropriation, but vetoed language that would open access to RAFT to elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and households without children under the age of 21. Today's override means that RAFT eligibility will be expanded. We will work with the Department of Housing and Community Development and other stakeholders on implementation.
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024): The Governor cut MRVP funding from $85.3 million to $82.9 million. The Legislature added back the $2.4 million to the line item.
    • Status: Overridden on Sunday, July 31st!
    • Votes: House 142-15 and Senate 36-3
  • Public Housing Operating Subsidies (line item 7004-9005): The Governor cut public housing operating subsidies from $65 million to $64.5 million. The Legislature restored the $500,000 to the line item.
    • Status: Overridden on Sunday, July 31st!
    • Votes: House 146-12 and Senate 36-3
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000): The Governor vetoed language in this line item that would have prevented the Department of Transitional Assistance from being able to count Supplemental Security Income when calculating TAFDC benefits for families with one or more members living with a disability. This could have led to over 8,500 families having their TAFDC benefits eliminated or greatly reduced. He also vetoed language that would have increased the TAFDC annual clothing allowance to $250 per eligible child (the Governor replaced that figure with the FY'16-level benefit of $200/child). This means that the Governor will not be able to move ahead to limit acesss to TAFDC benefits and that the clothing allowance will increase in September. The override also adds back $23.6 million to the line item.

Veto override votes 7-31-16

Looking Ahead to Informal Sessions:

While the 189th General Court is about to end formal sessions, the Legislature will continue to meet in informal sessions until early January, when the next two-year legislative cycle will get underway. During informal sessions, the Legislature can move forward non-controversial legislation. If one legislator objects to an item moving forward, a bill can be derailed during informal sessions; sometimes the objections are related to the cost of implementing the legislation.

We are hopeful that the bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness, House Bill 1129, can move forward during this period. We also will be looking to move ahead lower cost portions of the EAEDC bill, House Bill 529 to improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program, as a redrafted bill or as part of the FY'17 supplemental budget request. (For example, we estimate that it would cost $1.8 million/year to implement section 1 of the EAEDC bill, which would allow participants who are experiencing homelessness to receive full grants. Currently, participants without housing costs have their grants reduced from an average of $303.70/month to only $92.80/month.)

As noted in our previous post, there are two pending supplemental budgets related to homelessness, housing, and cash assistance, which have been submitted to the Legislature by the Governor.
 One supplemental budget, House Bill 4506, is to address anticipated FY'17 budget shortfalls, and includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services (line item 7004-0101), $2.5 million more for HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108), and $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program benefits (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000).

Another request is to close out FY'16, House Bill 4517, and includes requests for $1 million for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item (line item 4000-0007), $3.6 million for MRVP (line item 7004-9316), and $1 million for the End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund (line item 1599-0017) .

** Once again, please thank your legislators for supporting the override requests. Please also ask them to support House Bill 1129, House Bill 529, and supplemental budget requests during the informal sessions. You can reach your legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or you can find additional contact information here: www.wheredoivotema.com. **
It's Time to Ask Your Legislators to Override the Governor's Budget Vetoes!

It's Time to Ask Your Legislators to Override the Governor's Budget Vetoes!

Originally posted July 11, 2016; last updated July 31, 2016:

On Friday, the Governor issued his fiscal year 2017 budget vetoes, which included cutting out the RAFT expansion language and other priority funding/language we have been promoting since last fall. Please help us push the Legislature to take up override votes. In order to overturn a particular veto, 2/3 of the members in both the House and the Senate must vote in favor of that override. Veto overrides must start in the House. As formal legislative sessions will end for this biennial cycle on July 31st, time is short.

Key vetoes of concern:

  • Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): The Governor maintained the Legislature's $13 million appropriation, but vetoed language that would open access to RAFT to elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and households without children under the age of 21. RAFT override fact sheetCoalition's letter from last week to the Governor on the importance of this language; testimonies in support of the RAFT override
  • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000): The Governor vetoed language in this line item that would have prevented the Department of Transitional Assistance from being able to count Supplemental Security Income when calculating TAFDC benefits for families with one or more members living with a disability. This could lead to over 8,500 families having their TAFDC benefits eliminated or greatly reduced. He also vetoed language that would have increased the TAFDC annual clothing allowance to $250 per eligible child (the Governor replaced that figure with the FY'16-level benefit of $200/child). TAFDC-SSI override fact sheet 
    • Update: Great news! The House and Senate overrode the Governor's veto on July 23rd! This means that the Governor will not be able to move ahead to limit acesss to TAFDC benefits and that the clothing allowance will increase in September. The override also adds back $23.6 million to the line item.
  • Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024): The Governor cut MRVP funding from $85.3 million to $82.9 million.
  • Public Housing Operating Subsidies (line item 7004-9005): The Governor cut public housing operating subsidies from $65 million to $64.5 million.
Its Time to Stand Up for Housing 1

Good news update on Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101): The state's budget website has been updated to reflect that the Governor did not veto language that would have required the Administration to provide 90 days advanced notice before implementing eligibilty changes and benefits reductions within this program that provides shelter and support services to families with children experiencing homelessness.

In better news, however, the Governor also submitted multiple supplemental budgets to the Legislature. One supplemental budget, House Bill 4506, is to address anticipated FY'17 budget shortfalls, and includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services (line item 7004-0101), $2.5 million more for HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108), and $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program benefits (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000).

Another request is to close out FY'16, House Bill 4517, and includes requests for $1 million for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item (line item 4000-0007), $3.6 million for MRVP (line item 7004-9316), and $1 million for the End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund (line item 1599-0017) .

** Please ask your legislators to support both the override requests and the supplemental budget requests. You can reach your legislators by calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000 or find additional contact information here: www.wheredoivotema.com. **

State House Call-In Day on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

State House Call-In Day on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

Take Action Today to Help Pass House BIlls 529 and 1129!

July 17, 2016

Thank you for helping to promote last week's legislative briefing on the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program and the campaign to establish a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness. The event focused on House Bill 529, An Act relative to assisting elders in the Commonwealth (fact sheet), and House Bill 1129, An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (fact sheet). Both bills are awaiting action by House Ways and Means. This week we need your help to make our State House call-in day on these two bills a success. 

Please make two calls today or tomorrow: One to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and one to House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey. Let them know that you stand with the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and you would like to see them take action to pass House Bills 529 and 1129.
  • Speaker DeLeo can be reached at 617-722-2500. You also can tweet him a message: @SpeakerDeLeo
  • Chairman Dempsey can be reached at 617-722-2990.
Need some inspriation before making your calls? Read moving testimonies from Cochise W. of Rosie's Place (on the Coalition's blog) and Christine Ciulla, whose poetry recently was featured on the Coalition's blog and whose personal story was featured in Spare Change News. Here is the Coalition's press release on the call-in day and briefing.
legislative briefing on House Bills 529 and 1129 7-14-16-page-001 1

legislative briefing on House Bills 529 and 1129 7-14-16-page-002
For more details or to share feedback from your outreach, please contact Kelly Turley: kelly (at) mahomeless.org or 781-595-7570 x17. 

Thank you!

briefing on h529  1129

 
State House Briefing on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

State House Briefing on Legislation to Promote Dignity for People Experiencing Homelessness and Poverty: House Bills 529 + 1129

Please invite your State Representative and Senator to join the Coalition and our legislative hosts, Representative Jim O'Day, Representative William Smitty Pignatelli, and Senator Pat Jehlen, for a legislative briefing on House Bill 529, An Act relative to assisting elders in the Commonwealth (fact sheet), and House Bill 1129, An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (fact sheet). Both bills are awaiting action by House Ways and Means. The event will take place on Thursday, July 14th from 11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at the State House in the House Members Lounge.

Speakers will include our legislative hosts, Christine Ciulla, whose poetry recently was featured on the Coalition's blog and whose personal story was featured in Spare Change News, and Cochise W. of Rosie's Place.

Find your legislators contact information by going to www.wheredoivotema.com or calling the State House switchboard at 617-722-2000.

Legislative offices can RSVP by completing this brief form, emailing Kelly: kelly (at) mahomeless.org, or calling 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you!

Pass House Bills 529  1129