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Happy New Fiscal Year! FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes

Happy New Fiscal Year! FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes

Happy New Fiscal Year!
FY'17 Conference Committee Budget Outcomes for Key Housing and Homelessness Programs

Initially posted July 1, 2016

Yesterday, the House and Senate adopted House Bill 4450, the Conference Committee's budget recommendations for the new fiscal year that begins today. With the projections for state revenues decreasing over the past few weeks (with estimates ranging from $450 million - $950 million less than anticipated), the Legislature's Joint Conference Committee on the FY'17 budget engaged in difficult deliberations to work out the differences between the House and Senate proposed budgets for the year ahead. The compromise budget now has been sent to Governor Charlie Baker for his signature and line item vetoes. The Governor has 10 days to review the budget.

Thank you to everyone who weighed in with support for the Coalition's top priorities and full priority list with their own legislators and this year's six budget conferees*.

One highlight from the Conference Committee budget is an increase of $500,000 for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program, which is set to be funded at $13 million for FY'17. The Legislature included an important change that now will expand access to these critical homelessness prevention funds beyond just families with children under the age of 21 to include households of all sizes and configurations, including elders, unaccompanied youth, and people with disabilities. Until now, households without minor children have had very limited access to prevention resources from the state, which has led to increased evictions and foreclosures, heightened housing instability, and longer stays in homelessness. We are hopeful that with expanded access to RAFT and the allocation of increased funding, the state can continue to build out a network of homelessness prevention funding and housing stabilization services to help households avoid homelessness altogether when possible and greatly decrease how long families of all types spend without safe, permanent housing. 

Here are the outcomes for our top three priorities: 
  • Expanding access to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) homelessness prevention program: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking Legislators to support the Senate version of the RAFT line item (7004-9316), which would provide $13 million for the program. The Senate language would expand the definition of family to include elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household types and add $500,000 to serve these households, while retaining level funding of $12.5 million for families with children under the age of 21. The RAFT Conference Committee fact sheet and one-minute online action are here.
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee budget includes $13 million for RAFT and language clarifying that "family" includes households of all sizes and configurations! While the language does not match the Senate version, we will work with the Department of Housing and Community Development, RAFT providers, and advocates on an equitable implementation of the expanded RAFT program.
  • Allowing families to access Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter before they are forced to stay in places not meant for human habitation: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking Legislators to support the Senate version of the EA line item (7004-0101), which would allow otherwise eligible families to enter EA without having to prove that they already have stayed in an emergency room, car, campground, etc. The Emergency Assistance Conference Committee fact sheet is here. The recent front page Boston Globe coverage of the EA budget debate is here.
    • Outcome: Unfortunately, the Conference Committee budget did not include key language to ensure that families do not have to first stay in places not meant for human habitation before accessing EA shelter. As the budget deliberations continued, the Baker Administration issued revised cost estimates for the language change. While we believe that the change would cost less than $300,000/year, the Administration cited inflated potential costs of $40.8 million - $54 million, which made the House conferees more reticent to accept the Senate language. We proposed compromise language that would have capped the potential expenses at $500,000, but given the intense need for conferees to find cost savings, this also was not included. The Conference Committee did include Senate language to require the Administration to provide 90 days advanced notice before implementing any benefits reductions or eligibility restrictions in the EA program. (The House initially proposed 60 days advanced notice.)
  • Funding housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults at at least $2 million: For the Conference Committee phase of the budget process, we were asking legislators to support the Senate version of the unaccompanied youth line item (4000-0007), which was $1 million more than the House version. The unaccompanied youth Conference Committee fact sheet is here.
    • Outcome: The Conference Committee included the House funding level of $1 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults, and the Senate version of the line item language requiring the Executive Office of Health and Human Services to track and report on a number of data points, including how many young people:
      • Are served by the programs funded under the line item and the services young people receive
      • Transition into stable housing and the zip codes of that housing
      • Stay in stable housing for at least 90 days
      • Are denied services
** Please join us in asking Governor Charlie Baker to retain the positive elements of the FY'17 budget, and avoid vetoing key language and funding. The Governor's office can be reached via the contact information listed here. Our letter to the Governor is here (PDF) and below:

mch letter budget letter 7-5-16-page-001

This page will be updated shortly with even more budget details. Stay tuned!

* This year's six budget conferees were: Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill, Chair of House Ways and Means), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington, Vice Chair of House Ways and Means), and Todd Smola (R-Warren, Minority Member of House Ways and Means) and Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland, Chair of Senate Ways and Means), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Mean), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth, Minority Member of Senate Ways and Means).

Update, July 11, 2016: On Friday, the Governor issued his vetoes, which included cutting out the RAFT expansion language. We will be sending out an action alert shortly. In better news, the Governor also submitted a supplemental budget to the Legislature. It includes requests for $26.0 million more to support Emergency Assistance (EA) family shelter and homelessness services, $2.5 million more for HomeBASE + $1.9 million more for Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) benefits. Please ask your legislators to support these requests: www.wheredoivotema.com


In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget! Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget! Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

In the Homestretch: Help Shape the FY'17 Conference Committee Budget!
Advocate with Us for Housing and Homelessness Programs

Initially posted June 2, 2016

Though the Senate and House both have gone through their initial budget recommendation and debate processes for fiscal year 2017 we're not done yet! After the Senate's adoption of its version of the FY'17 budget on May 26th, we have now moved to the next phase of the budget process: Conference Committee. 

Once the House and the Senate vote on their respective budgets, each branch appoints three members to a joint committee (the "Conference Committee") to work out and resolve all differences between the two budgets. The compromise budget that comes out of Conference Committee is then brought to the House and Senate members for a final vote before being sent to the Governor.

This year's House Conference Committee members are Representatives Brian Dempsey (D-Haverhill, Chair of House Ways and Means), Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington, Vice Chair of House Ways and Means), and Todd Smola (R-Warren, Minority Member of House Ways and Means). The Senate Conference Committee members are Senators Karen Spilka (D-Ashland, Chair of Senate Ways and Means), Sal DiDomenico (D-Everett, Vice Chair of Senate Ways and Mean), and Vinny deMacedo (R-Plymouth, Minority Member of Senate Ways and Means). 

In order to ensure that the Conference Committee's budget has the best language and highest levels of funding possible for housing and homelessness issues, we need you to help urge the committee members to create a compromise budget that prioritizes these programs. We will update this page shortly, so you can contact your own legislators and ask them to convey their support to the Conference Committee and to Leadership for the language and funding levels to be detailed in our upcoming Conference Committee letter. Read our letter to the conferees here, outlining our complete Conference Committee priorities, and our preliminary action alert and follow-up alert. See below for more details on our top three priorities.

Top priorities:

raft advocacy image
Advocate Along with Us to Improve the Senate Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Advocate Along with Us to Improve the Senate Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Support key amendments to the Senate Ways and Means budget recommendations

(Initially posted May 17, 2016)

Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("SWM" or "Senate Ways and Means") unveiled its fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth, with the theme of building "resilient children, families, and communities". This $39.5 billion budget marks the next step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Thursday afternoon at 5 p.m. (Thursday, May 19th) will be the deadline for Senate members to file amendments to the SWM budget, with the Senate budget debate scheduled to begin next Tuesday, May 24th.

Read our Senate Ways and Means budget action alert: web version and PDF.

As this is only the next of several proposals on the way to the final FY'17 budget, your voice will be critical to helping to protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for families, individuals, and youth.

To learn more about the Coalition's FY'17 budget priorities, please click here.

We are truly grateful that you are advocating with us to protect and promote investment in these programs!

Important links:


Quick List of Outcomes and Lead Sponsors on Key Housing, Shelter, Homelessness Prevention, and Cash Assistance Amendments
(Updated May 26, 2016; 4:30p.m.)

Thank you for all of your advocacy!




Youth Count 2016

Youth Count 2016

Take part in the 2016 Massachusetts Youth Count survey as a participant and/or volunteer!

May 2, 2016 

Today's the day! The 3rd annual Massachusetts Youth Count is now underway to better understand the housing and service needs of unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25. Findings from this survey will continue to inform state policies and funding allocations so that Massachusetts can better meet the needs of young people who are experiencing homelessness and housing instability, outside the care of a parent or guardian.

Youth Count 2016 will run until the end of the day on Sunday, May 15th.

Please share these links with young people you know who are under 25 and who have experienced housing instability.

The online survey in English and Spanish is here.

Downloadable versions are below:

English

Spanish

Haitian Creole

Completed paper versions can be returned to Kelly: kelly@mahomeless.org

Continuums of Care, youth providers, youth ambassadors, and other partners also will be distributing the survey over the next two weeks to youth and young adults throughout the state.


Data from last year's survey is available here and Spare Change News coverage of this year's count is here.

The Coalition is proud to be a lead partner in the Massachusetts Youth Count, a project of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Learn more on the Youth Count Facebook page or by emailing kelly@mahomeless.org

Thanks! 
Advocate Along with Us to Improve the House Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Advocate Along with Us to Improve the House Version of the FY'17 State Budget

Support key amendments to the House Ways and Means budget recommendations

(Initially posted April 14, 2016)

Yesterday, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("HWM" or "House Ways and Means") unveiled its fiscal year 2017 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. This $39.5 billion budget marks the next step on the path to developing the state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m.(Friday, April 15th) will be the deadline for House members to file amendments to the HWM budget, with the House budget debate scheduled for the week of April 25th.

See the sections linked here for preliminary information on the House Ways and Mean's budget proposals for housing, shelter, homelessness prevention, and cash assistance programs. 

*Please contact your State Representative today to ask her/him to support the key amendments listed below, notably the amendments to expand RAFT, restore funding for housing and services to unaccompanied youth, and to prevent families from having to stay in places not meant for human habitation. You can find your State Representative's contact information by going to malegislature.gov/People/House or www.wheredoivotema.com, or by calling the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.*

Stay tuned in the days and week ahead for a more detailed analysis and additional information about amendments.

As this is only the next of several proposals on the way to the final FY'17 budget, your voice will be critical to helping to protect housing, homelessness, and safety net programs for families, individuals, and youth.

To learn more about the Coalition's FY'17 budget priorities, please click here.

We are truly grateful that you are advocating with us to protect and promote investment in these programs!

Important links:

Expand Access to Homelessness Prevention Resources in FY'17

Expand Access to Homelessness Prevention Resources in FY'17

Expand Eligibility and Funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316)

Please join the Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless in asking your State Representative and State Senator to support the expansion of the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program to change the definition of family to cover households of all sizes and configurations so as to allow unaccompanied adults and those without children in the household to also access homelessness prevention resources. Please also join us in asking the Legislature to expand RAFT funding from $12.5 million to $18.5 million to fund the expansion and to ensure that RAFT resources are available year-round.

testimonies; testimonies in support of RAFT expansion (also viewable below)

* One-minute online action: Click here to send a letter in support of the RAFT expansion to your State Representative and State Senator.* 
Testimonies for override campaign 7-20-16-page-001

Testimonies for override campaign 7-20-16-page-002









Help Us Expand Access to Emergency Assistance Family Shelter

Help Us Expand Access to Emergency Assistance Family Shelter

Help Change Policies Forcing Families to Stay in Places Not Meant for Human Habitation

Join the Coalition in asking your State Representative and State Senator to provide adequate funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101) in the fiscal year 2017 budget and include key language to provide shelter to families who are at imminent risk of staying in a place not meant for human habitation.

Under current EA regulations, otherwise eligible families who are within 24 hours of staying in places not meant for human habitation can be turned away from shelter, even if DHCD believes that the family will be forced to stay in a car, emergency room, or transit station. Massachusetts can and must do better for its most vulnerable families.

Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 (all of FY’15), 494 families with children were approved for EA only after first staying in a place not meant for human habitation. For the first seven months of FY’16, 364 families first stayed in places not meant for human habitation before being approved for shelter (an average of 52 families/month).

Learn more here: EA fact sheet

Sign our one-minute online action to legislators, on Emergency Assistance and other issues: FY'17 budget priorities online action







Legislative Action Day 2016

Thank you to the 296 people who joined us at the State House for our annual Legislative Action Day, to be held on Thursday, March 3, 2016! We are so grateful for your participation and engagement. Special thanks to all of our amazing speakers who inspired the crowd with their calls to action.

As a follow-up, please take a minute to participate in our online letter action to State Representatives and State Senators, and check out our follow-up email alert.

See our list of FY'17 budget priorities, current bill priorities, and agenda here, and check out our promo video on YouTube.

We will be posting photos soon. If you have any pictures from Legislative Action Day, please share them with us.

screenshot lad video

Thank you to everyone who participated in our Legislative Action Day training call on Wednesday, February 17th (flyer). Didn't make it? Here are some tips for meeting with legislators and aides.

After your meetings, please take a few minutes to share feedback on those meetings with us. Please complete this online legislative response form or the PDF version and send it back to us.




lad 2016 flyer 1-14-16

Youth Without Homes Can't Wait: FY'17 Budget Campaign Organizational Endorsers

Action for Boston Community Development

Boston Area Rape Crisis Center (BARCC)

Bridge Over Troubled Waters

Cambridge and Somerville Housing and Welfare Coalition

Children's League of Massachusetts

Citizens' Housing and Planning Association

DIAL/SELF Youth & Community Services

Homeless Youth Providers Engaging Together

Homes for Families

Horizons for Homeless Children

Justice Resource Institute/YouthHarbors

LUK, Inc.

Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy

Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice

Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless

MassEquality

Metropolitan Boston Housing Partnership

Regional Housing Network of Massachusetts

Promise Place School

Samaritans Steps

School on Wheels

Somerville Homeless Coalition

Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness

Y2Y Harvard Square

* A campaign fact sheet can be found here.
enduring voices justin
2015-2016 Legislative Session Bill Priorities

2015-2016 Legislative Session Bill Priorities

Help Advocate with Your Legislators with and for Bills to Better Serve Families, Youth, and Unaccompanied Adults

Our major legislative priorities for the 2015-2016 legislative session are described in this overview sheet and below.

House Bill 529 MCH EAEDC Campaign front

1.) Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) bill:
     An Act relative to assisting elders and people with disabilities in the Commonwealth
     House Bill 529
     Lead sponsors: Representative James O’Day and Senator Patricia Jehlen
     Fact sheet and legislative page
     Online action alert in support of House Bill 529
 
2.) Bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness:
     An Act providing a homeless bill of rights
     House Bill 1129
     Lead Sponsor: Representative William Smitty Pignatelli
     Fact sheet and legislative page

3.) Bill to protect families who are being evicted from subsidized housing or terminated from shelter:
     An Act to end child homelessness
     House Bill 119
     Lead sponsor: Representative Denise Provost
     Legislative page
 



Past Policy Campaigns

Past Policy Campaigns

Past Policy Campaigns

Information on the Coalition's FY'17 Budget Campaigns 
Please follow these links to sections on our website with more details on the FY'17 budget process:
Overall FY'17 budget priority fact sheet(updated 5-6-16), including the Coalition's requests for line items such as Emergency Assistance, HomeBASE, youth homelessness, RAFT, Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, EAEDC, etc.

Expanding the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) homelessness prevention program: Campaign fact sheet (updated 4-21-16); downloadable organizational endorsement formonline organizational endorsementtestimony from Susan O. in support of the RAFT expansion

Providing $4 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness: Campaign fact sheetcurrent organizational endorser list (as of 4-15-16); campaign endorsement formmore information about youth homelessness and the work of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth

Provide Emergency Assistance (EA) shelter and resources to families expreriencing homelessness before they have to stay in places not meant for human habitation: Campaign fact sheetsupplemental budget campaign fall 2016/winter 2017

Increasing funding for the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP, line item 7004-9030): Campaign fact sheet

Maintaining TAFDC benefits for families with disabilities: Campaign fact sheet

  • The Baker Administration plans to start counting SSI benefits when calculating welfare benefits for families in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC). The proposal, announced at the same time as the Governor's FY'17 budget recommendations were released, would lead to an estimated 6,900 families with children losing their TAFDC benefits completely, and another 1,600 families facing drastic cuts to their benefits. Such a policy would have dramatic impacts on the quality of life for those families (all of which have at least one member with a severe disability) and on the rates of homelessness and housing insecurity. Join with us in speaking up against this proposal!

Check back frequently for updates and additional campaign information.

Information on the Coalition's 2015-2016 Bill Campaigns 
  • Overall bill priority fact sheet (updated 2-26-16)
  • Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC) bill: An Act relative to assisting elders and people with disabilities in the Commonwealth, filed by Representative Jim O'Day and lead Senate sponsor Senator Patricia Jehlen (House Bill 529): Fact sheet (updated 4-8-16), legislative pageinfographic; status: House Bill 529 was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means on December 10, 2015. The bill remains in House Ways and Means. The Coalition is working to move forward elements of the bill during informal legislative sessions, which will run from August 2016-January 2017.
  • Bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness: An Act providing a homeless bill of rights, filed by Representative William Smitty Pignatelli (House Bill 1129): Fact sheet (updated 4-8-16), legislative pageflyer for 7-28-15 bill hearing at the State House; Rep. Pignatelli's December 2016legislative sign-on letter text; status: House Bill 1129 was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means on December 17, 2015. The bill remains in House Ways and Means. The Coalition is working to move the bill forward during informal legislative sessions, which will run from August 2016-January 2017.
  • Bill 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: Filed by Representative Denise Provost (House Bill 119): Legislative page; status: The bill was heard by the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities on October 20, 2015, where it is awaiting further action.
  • Sample of the Coalition's letter to legislators to request co-sponsorship of these three bills
  • The Healthy Food, Healthy Homes, Healthy Children bill: An Act relative to ensuring the well-being of all children in the Commonwealth, filed by Representative Jay Livingstone (House Bill 429) and Senator Mark Montigny (Senate Bill 94): Fact sheet from the Healthy Food, Healthy Homes, Healthy Children Coalition; legislative pages for House Bill 429 and Senate Bill 94; status: The bill initially was assigned to the Joint Committee on Education, and then was sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities. That committee heard the bill on October 20, 2015, and the bill is awaiting further action.
Information on the Coalition's FY'16 Budget Campaigns 

Conference Committee budget outcomes (7-8-15)

Overall budget priority fact sheet (updated 4-15-15); letter to FY'16 budget Conference Committee members

Senate budget amendment fact sheet 

Housing and services for unaccompanied youth (updated 5-7-15)

Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA) (updated 3-26-15); House budget amendment fact sheet

HomeBASE re-housing and homelessness diversion resources for families: Senate budget amendment fact sheetHouse budget amendment fact sheet

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP)

Alternative Housing Voucher Program (AHVP)

Transitional Aid to Families with Dependment Children program (TAFDC) House budget amendment fact sheet

To read our analysis of Governor Baker's FY'16 budget proposal, which was released on March 4, 2015, please click here.

Declare a State of Emergency to Address and End Homelessness in Massachusetts


SEEH banner

Across Massachusetts, an unprecedented number of children, youth, and adults are experiencing homelessness, primarily due to widespread poverty, and an insufficient supply of housing that is affordable to the lowest income households.

Join us in calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to declare a State of Emergency to End Homelessness, and taking immediate actions to help stop the crisis!

Please complete this form to let us know you (as an organization or individual) stand in solidarity with our call for a state of emergency against homelessness in Massachusetts.

The text of our call to action is below and here in PDF form:

Across Massachusetts, an unprecedented number of children, youth, and adults are experiencing homelessness, primarily due to widespread poverty, and an insufficient supply of housing that is affordable to the lowest income households. Homelessness and housing insecurity also are exacerbated by domestic violence, substance abuse, inequality, illness, and unemployment. According to numbers from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's 2015 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress, there were 21,135 people in Massachusetts counted as experiencing homelessness during the 2015 point-in-time counts conducted by the HUD Continua of Care across the state. We know that this figure is just the tip of the iceberg, as the HUD count is a snapshot for one day in the winter and includes only people connected to shelters and social service programs and those visibly staying in places not meant for human habitation. Families and individuals (including many unaccompanied youth) without housing of their own who are staying in temporary doubled-up situations with friends and family members are not captured in the count. Many Massachusetts residents staying in cars, campgrounds, transit stations, and other places not meant for human habitation are never captured in official counts either.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s September 2015 American Community Survey report, the overall poverty rate in Massachusetts was 11.6% in 2014. This included an estimated 757,235 people in Massachusetts living in households that fell below the poverty threshold (at the time, $24,008 for a family of four). Families and children in Massachusetts experience poverty at an even higher rate, as 13.2% of families with children under 18 have incomes which fall below the poverty line.

Homelessness reflects the statewide housing crisis and has led to a public health crisis. Research in cities and states across America, including Massachusetts, shows that individuals experiencing homelessness are four times more likely to die of any cause than similar people who are housed. The effects are equally dire for families experiencing homelessness: housing insecurity for families is associated with poor child health and increased risk for developmental disabilities among young children, as well as less-healthy children of pregnant mothers experiencing homelessness. The way to improve the health and well-being of these populations is simple: increase the stock of affordable housing so that fewer individuals and families become homeless in the first place, and provide rapid pathways back to housing for those who have lost their homes.

For more than three decades, Massachusetts has been a national leader in responding to homelessness and housing instability. At the same time, there is much more work to be done to ensure that everyone has a safe, affordable place to call home. Taking the example from the cities of Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle, as well as the state of Hawaii, we are asking the Commonwealth to recognize the homelessness emergency here in Massachusetts, and to take immediate and sustained action to end homelessness.

We are asking state officials to prioritize homelessness and housing programs in the FY’17 state budget by taking actions including, but not limited to:

• Expanding the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316) to continue to help families with children avoid or exit homelessness and begin to provide homelessness prevention funds to elders, adults with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household configurations. (RAFT fact sheet)

• Increasing funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024) to $120 million to maintain existing services and benefits to the more than 7,000 households currently served by the program and to significantly increase the number of low-income households (including families, elders, and persons with disabilities) struggling with housing instability who will be served by the program.

• Providing adequate funding for the Emergency Assistance family shelter and services program (EA, line item 7004-0101) and including key language to provide shelter to families who are at “imminent risk of staying in a place not meant for human habitation”. Under current EA regulations, otherwise eligible families who are within 24 hours of staying in places not meant for human habitation can be turned away from shelter, even if DHCD believes that the family will be forced to stay in a car, emergency room, or transit station. Massachusetts can and must do better for its most vulnerable families. Between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015 (all of FY’15), 494 families with children were approved for EA only after first staying in a place not meant for human habitation. For the first five months of FY’16, 273 families first stayed in places not meant for human habitation before being approved for shelter (an average of 55 families/month). (EA fact sheet)

• Increasing funding for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness outside the custody and care of a parent or guardian (line item 4000-0007) to $4 million, $2 million over the initial FY’16 investment in this new line item. (Youth homelessness fact sheet and endorsement form)

• Increasing funding for homelessness assistance for individuals (Line Item 7004-0102) to $50 million, an increase over the FY’16 funding level of $44.8 million.

• Increasing funding for the Home and Healthy for Good Program for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness (line item 7004-0104) to $3.8 million, a $2 million increase over the FY’16 appropriation) and continuing to provide support to LGBT young adults who are experiencing homelessness.

• Increasing the number of voluntary treatment programs and beds for individuals of all incomes in active opioid and other forms of addiction, as well mental health services will prevent shelters form continuing to be indefinite holding areas for individuals struggling with special challenges and issues.


Outside of the budget, we are asking the Administration to increase coordination among state agencies tasked with addressing homelessness and poverty, and asking the Legislature to pass key pieces of legislation such as:

• An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (House Bill 1129 fact sheet)

• An Act relative to assisting elders & people with disabilities in the Commonwealth (House Bill 529 fact sheet)

• An Act to end child homelessness (House Bill 119 legislative page)

• An Act relative to ensuring the well-being of all children in the Commonwealth (House Bill 429/Senate Bill 94 fact sheet)

Join us in calling on Massachusetts lawmakers to declare a State of Emergency to End Homelessness, and taking these immediate actions to help stop the crisis!

-Posted 2/12/16

As of March 17th, there are 33 organizational endorsers, as well as over 550 individual endorsers for the call-to-action. The organizations (in alphabetical order) that have signed on include those listed below. Add your name and organization today!

AIDS Action Committee
American Friends Service Committee Cambridge
American Friends Service Committee Material Assistance Program
Arise for Social Justice
Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program
Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee
Boston Warm
City Mission Boston
Community Works Inc.
COPE
Emmanuel Church
First Baptist Church in Framingham
First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC
First Church in Swampscott, Congregational, UCC
First Church Shelter
Friends of the Homeless
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Communities Action Network
Outdoor Fellowship
Poor People's United Fund
ROCA
Samaritans Steps
Sanctuary United Church of Christ
Somerville Homeless Coalition
South Congregational Church
Spare Change News
The Addict's Mom
The Plymouth Church in Framingham
Victory Programs
Wellesley Friends Meeting
Women's Lunch Place
Worcester Fellowship
Y2Y Harvard Square

Photos from our Legislative Action Day official launch of the State of Emergency campaign. Campaign endorsers and supporters dropped off materials about the State of Emergency request, along with blankets, to key legislative leaders and the Governor. The delegation underscored the message that a blanket is not a home.
image2 blanket dropimage1 blanket dropIMG 2902 blanket dropIMG 2904 blanket drop 1


Improving the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Improving the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Please Support House Bill 529, An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth

What is EAEDC?
EAEDC is a state-funded cash assistance and benefits program providing support to approximately 22,000 extremely low-income individuals, administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

House Bill 529 would:

  1. Increase the EAEDC grant
  2. Remove the shelter reduction/penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness
  3. Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
  4. Create an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for EAEDC program participants
Click here for the current campaign fact sheet and here for the legislative page for the bill.

eaedc 80s barbie infographic