Advocacy

FY 2020

Legislative Action Day 2020: Save the Date and Plan to Join Us at the State House on February 27th

Legislative Action Day 2020: Save the Date and Plan to Join Us at the State House on February 27th

Posted November 20, 2019

We hope to see you at the State House for our annual Legislative Action Day on Thursday, February 27, 2020 in the Great Hall.

The event will be hosted by
State Representative Jim O'Day. Our keynote speaker will be Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition (and the Coalition's former Housing Policy Coordinator!) At Legislative Action Day, participants will hear from families, youth, and adults with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability, as well as researchers, advocates, and legislators. The day will focus on advocating for key 2019-2020 bill priorities and FY'21 budget priorities (coming soon).

The day will begin with check-in and light breakfast starting at 9 a.m., with the speaking program from 9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
In the afternoon, participants will fan out across the State House to meet with legislators and their staff
to share their support for deeper investments in housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, income support programs, and related resources. We will be offering assistance in setting up those meetings. (You can let us know you would like help in setting up legislative meetings by making note on the registration form.)

Registration is now open. Please register and help us spread the word.

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

Take Action to Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Take Action to Improve the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC)

Help push for passage of House Bill 621/Senate Bill 356

Posted September 12, 2019; last updated September 18th

What is EAEDC?


The Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC), is a state-funded cash assistance and benefits program providing support to over 19,000 extremely low-income individuals. The program is administered by the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA).

What would An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth, House Bill 621/Senate Bill 356, do?

This bill, filed by Representative Jim O'Day and Senator Pat Jehlen, would:
  • Increase the EAEDC grant levels to match DTA grant levels for households of the same size that are participating in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC)
  • Update state statute to reflect the removal of the homelessness penalty for individuals experiencing homelessness (removed via FY'19 and FY'20 state budget language)
  • Increase the allowable personal asset limit from $250 to $2,500
  • Create an annual cost of living adjustment (COLA) for EAEDC program participants
Follow the links below for more details:
How can you help push for passage of the EAEDC bill?

Thank you for your collaboration!
FY'20 Budget Advocacy: The Conference Committee is Meeting Now to Finalize the State Budget

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

Posted June 11, 2019; updated June 20th

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

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

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


The action highlights our requests for:

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Posted May 21, 2019

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

We are continuing to work on three main amendments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

Posted May 8, 2019, last updated May 14th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

We are working on three main amendments:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted April 11, 2019; last updated April 19th

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

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

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

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

Key Amendments:

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

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

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

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


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

Thank you for your advocacy and collaboration to push for a #BudgetToEndHomelessness!
Speak up for a strong budget on homelessness and housing issues: Join us April 2nd for a public hearing on the FY'20 state budget

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

Posted March 22, 2019; last updated April 2nd

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

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

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

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

(Closest entrance: Beacon Street side)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read our email about the hearing here.

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

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

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

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Legislative Action Day 2019: Sharing Our Gratitude and Next Steps

Posted March 15, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for your partnership and solidarity!



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

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

Posted January 8, 2019, last updated March 1st

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

Pre-Event Page:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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