Here is a list of housing development projects targeting youth and young adults experiencing homelessness that have received funding from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) in recent years. (Information courtesy of DHCD.)
Paige Apartments; Lowell (funded in 2012)
The Caleb Foundation partnered with the Lowell office of the Department of Children and Families to rehab a 10-unit apartment building and provide affordable housing for youth aging out of foster care. DCF provides supportive services designed to help residents successfully transition to independent living.
DIAL/SELF; Orange (funded in 2012)
DIAL/SELF operates a 9-unit SRO building for teenagers experiencing homelessness. Supportive services help residents learn to live independently and avoid backsliding into homelessness.
St. Mary’s Transitional Housing; Boston (funded in 2014)
St. Mary’s Center operates a 12-unit transitional program in Dorchester for pregnant and parenting women and girls under the age of 25 who previously experienced homelessness and/or have extremely low incomes. Services offered include case management, parenting skills groups, financial literacy, education and job training, domestic violence services, family health literacy, and recovery support.
Our House; Westfield (funded in 2014)
Domus, Inc. operates 10 units of permanent supportive housing for extremely low-income unaccompanied youth who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Domus employs a live-in site manager, and works with Westfield High School and the local YMCA to provide support services.
Waverly Abby; Boston (funded in 2015)
Sponsored by Bridge Over Troubled Waters, this Brighton-neighborhood project produced and preserved a total of 28 units of affordable housing for young adults, including young mothers with children, who previously experienced homelessness.
Harbor and Lafayette Homes; Salem (funded in 2017)
North Shore CDC was recently awarded funds for Harbor and Lafayette Homes in Salem, which will rehab 27 single room occupancy (SRO) units. Twenty-six units will be affordable, including sixteen that will provide housing and services to youth aging out of foster care.
Important Hearing on Key Homelessness Prevention and Benefits Bills: Join Us on Tuesday, May 16th at the State House
Please join us this Tuesday, May 16th starting at 1 p.m. for an important hearing in front of the Massachusetts Legislature's Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities. The committee will be taking testimony of three of the Coalition's 2017-2018 priority bills:
- House Bill 84, An Act to further provide a rental arrearage program, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker
- House Bill 85, An Act relative to the well being and care of a child, also filed by Representative Marjorie Decker
- House Bill 114, An Act to prevent homelessness among recipients of transitional assistance (a.k.a the No Place Like Home bill), filed by Representative Denise Provost
How can you be part of the hearing?
- Come in person to let the commitee know why you support these bills and the importance of homelessness prevention resources and welfare benefits
- Come be in the audience to pack the hearing room and show solidarity
- Submit written testimony to the committee
- Call your legislators to ask them to testify in suppport of the bills
- Show your support for the bills on social media
For more details, please email Kelly.
Posted April 18, 2017; last updated May 16, 2018
*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 youth, youth with foster care involvement, pregnant and parenting youth, and youth with criminal justice system involvement.*
The Coalition is proud to be a lead collaborator once again with the Massachusetts Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth for the 4th 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.
*If you are under 25 and have completed a paper version of the survey, or if you are able to collect paper surveys from youth and young adults, you can mail completed surveys to: Kelly Turley, Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless, 73 Buffum Street, Lynn, MA 01902.*
How can you help? Please share this link with any young people you know, post the flyer in a visible place in your community, and check out the Youth Count Facebook page, Twitter feed, and Instagram page.
For more details about the Coalition's advocacy on addressing and ending youth and young adult homelessness, please click here: unaccompanied youth and young adult homelessness page or contact Kelly.
The Coalition's Youth Count action alert from May 1st is here.
Downloadable materials in PDF form:
- Overview of Massachusetts Youth Count 2017
- Youth Count 2017 letter from Linn Torto, Executive Director of the Interagency Council on Housing and Homelessness
- Youth Count flyer
- English version of Youth Count survey
- Spanish version of Youth Count survey
- Haitian Kreyol version of Youth Count survey
- Cape Verdean Creole version of Youth Count survey
- Khmer/Cambodian version of Youth Count survey
- Brazilian Portuguese version of Youth Count survey
- QR code to link to online survey
- Social media outreach tips for Youth Ambassadors (and other stakeholders), courtesy of Lauren Leonardis, Youth Count Consultant
** Please sign our one-minute online action to your State Representative in support of key homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments. **
On April 10th, the House Committee on Ways and Means ("House Ways and Means" or HWM) released its recommendations for the state's 2018 state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Coming in at $40.33 billion, the HWM budget, House Bill 3600, includes positive and negative recommendations on homelessness, housing, and benefits issues.
On the plus side, House Ways and Means proposed a $13.5 million increase to the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024) from $86.5 million to $100 million, and a $2 million increase for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), to raise homelessness prevention funding from $13 million to $15 million. (See below for more details on RAFT). HWM rejected the Governor's proposal to cut eligibility for the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000).
On the minus side, while RAFT would see an increase in funding, House Ways and Means reverted to old RAFT eligibility language in line item 7004-9316 that 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. We are working with Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge, who filed a RAFT amendment, Amendment #90: RAFT amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).
HWM also eliminated line item 4000-0007, which currently provides $2 million for housing and services for unaccompanied youth and young adults. The Coalition is seeking $4 million for the line item in FY'18, as well as explicit language and funding in line item 4000-0300 for the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. We are working with Representative Jim O'Day of West Boylston, who filed two youth homelessness amendments, Amendment #1088 and Amendment #1013: unaccompanied youth amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17) Also see the related amendment, Amendment #378, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker.
House Ways and Means also proposed 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). See the FY'18 EA campaign fact sheet. We are working with Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge, who filed the EA amendment, Amendment #85: EA amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).
While HWM maintained eligibility for the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), the budget proposal would maintain the "homelessness penalty" that leaves EAEDC participants experiencing homelessness with drastically reduced monthly benefits as compared to EAEDC participants with housing costs ($92.80/month vs. $303.70/month). We are working with Representative Jim O'Day of West Boylston, who filed an EAEDC amendment, Amendment #1055, to promote dignity, fairness, and opportunity for participants experiencing homelessness: EAEDC homelessness penalty fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).
House members were able file amendments until 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 13th. Thank you for all of your work to get as many cosponsors as possible before that deadline. We will be working over the next week to secure even more House cosponsors. Please join us by calling your State Representative to ask her/him to sign onto amendments and to thank them for the ones they already have cosponsored.
Other Important Amendments to Support (Preliminary List)
- Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program amendment (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), Amendment #79: Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment would "lift the cap on kids" so that children born after a family begins participating in the TAFDC program also would receive vital cash assistance benefits; fact sheet.
- Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program amendments (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), Amendment #382 and Amendment #780:
- Representative Mike Connolly's amendment, Amendment #382, would allow MRVP voucher holders to use the subsidies in units that are up to the current fair market rent (instead of 2005 FMR levels), require the Department of Housing and Community Development to issue new subsidies earlier in the fiscal year, and make other improvements to the MRVP program.
- Representative Paul Donato's amendment, Amendment #780, would increase the proposed MRVP funding from $100 million to $120 million.
- Alternative Housing Voucher Program amendment (AHVP, line item 7004-9030), Amendment #298: Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment would increase AHVP funding from $4.85 million to $7.5 million to serve more adults with disabilities who are under the age of 60 and experiencing housing instability.
- Emergency Assistance amendment (EA, line item 7004-0101), Amendment 344: Representative Aaron Vega's amendment would strengthen the tracking and reporting requirements to better understand who is served/not served by the EA program, and would allow families to retain EA benefits without triggering the 6-month time clock if they exceed the income limit for fewer than 90 days.
- HomeBASE amendment (line item 7004-0108), Amendment #1045: Representative Christine Barber's amendment would allow families that are in compliance with their rehousing plans to renew their HomeBASE subsidies for an additional 12 months, reduce the bar on further assistance for families that have been terminated from 24 months to 12 months, and lift the $300,000 cap on funding to families in the domestic violence and substance use treatment shelter programs.
- End Family Homelessness Reserve Fund amendment (line item 1599-0017), Amendment #1052: Representative Kay Khan's amendment would reinstate this line item and provide $1 million for the work of the eight regional consortia established last year to coordinate on homelessness and housing issues.
* For the most up-to-date details, please see our overview spreadsheet (updated 2-13-18) and overview PDF (updated 2-22-18)
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)
Heard by the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs on October 11, 2017
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 and heard on June 20, 2017; reported out favorably and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means
S.46 sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities; to be heard on November 21, 2017
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 and heard on May 16, 2017; reported out favorably and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means
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.84; organizational endorsement form for bill and budget campaigns
Sent to the Joint Committee on Housing and heard on August 22, 2017
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; to be heard on November 21, 2017
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 and heard on May 16, 2017; reported out favorably and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means
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)
Fact sheet (updated 11-9-17)
Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Transportation; House bill to be heard on November 13, 2017
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 (a.k.a. Lift the Cap on Kids Bill)
Lead Sponsors: Representative Marjorie Decker and Senator Sal DiDomenico
House Bill 85 (formerly House Docket 1262) and Senate Bill 34 (formerly Senate Docket 1762)
Both bills sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities and heard on May 16, 2017; both bills reported out favorably and sent to their respective Ways and Means Committee
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 and heard on August 22, 2017
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.
We are grateful to each of the speakers, volunteers, attendees, and supporters!
|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|
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.
Take action to protect children and families experiencing homelessness!
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:
- State House switchboard: 617-722-2000
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.
Working to increase funding for the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program and maintain expanded eligibilty
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. See DHCD's FY'17 data on who was served by the expansion here.
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
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.
No One Should Have to Sleep in a Place Not Meant for Human Habitation
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
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.
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
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.
Veto Override Votes
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.
- Status: Overridden on Sunday, July 31st!
- Votes: House 129-28 and Senate 32-6 (Senate roll call votes from 7/31 should be posted shortly here)
- Related materials: RAFT override fact sheet; Coalition's letter to the Governor on the importance of this language; testimonies in support of the RAFT override
- 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.
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. **