Advocacy

The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities

The Coalition's 2017-2018 Bill Priorities
Coalition’s 2017-2018 Legislative Session Bill Priorities: Preventing Homelessness and Improving Quality of Life for Families, Youth, Elders, and People with Disabilities
Last updated 3-15-17


Overview PDF (updated 3-13-17)

1.) An Act Relative to Assisting Elders and People with Disabilities in the Commonwealth
     Lead Sponsors: Representative James O’Day and Senator Patricia Jehlen
     House Bill 2077 (formerly House Docket 2295) and Senate Bill 2039 (formerly Senate Docket 2089)
     Fact sheet (updated 2-2-17)


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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


These bills would eliminate the so-called “family cap rule” that currently prohibits 9,400 children from receiving Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC) benefits because their family was participating in the TAFDC program at the time of their conception (or shortly thereafter). This punitive and misguided policy has left thousands of Massachusetts families further in poverty. The bill would allow Massachusetts to join 33 other states that do not punish families with such limits on access to vital welfare benefits.


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


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


For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at 781-595-7570 x17 or kelly @ mahomeless.org.