Advocacy

Outcomes for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

Outcomes for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget
July 10, 2017; last updated July 13th


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After some delays, the six members* of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Conference Committee released their recommendations, House Bill 3800, on Friday, July 7th for the fiscal year that began on July 1st. While both the House and Senate initially had released $40.8 billion recommendations, the Conference Committee budget reflected the newer consensus revenue estimate (lowered by $733 million) and included only $40.2 billion in spending. (See the previous $40.8 billion recommendations here: House Bill 3601 and Senate Bill 2076.) As anticipated, this meant lower appropriations and fewer positive language changes for many important line items, including some homelessness and housing programs.

To access a PDF of the budget without having to download it, click here. (The budget also is posted here, but the Legislature's website has been experiencing technical difficulties.)

On Friday afternoon, the House voted to approve the Conference Committee budget on a vote of 140-9, and the Senate voted to approve it 36-2. The budget was then sent to Governor Charlie Baker, who has 10 days to sign the budget and issue any vetoes. (In the meantime, the state has a temporary budget in place to cover July.)

Here are some quick highlights, with a full chart of outcomes for the Coalition's priorities here and a closer look at our top three priorities here (PDF):

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, Line Item 7004-9316): We are happy to report that the Conference Committee adopted the Senate's language to continue to serve households of all sizes and configurations. The Conference Committee budget earmarks up to $2 million to serve households without children under the age of 21. The committee adopted the House's funding recommendation of $15 million, which is $2 million more than the FY'17 appropriation. Click here and see the image below for more details on the importance of RAFT.

Emergency Assistance family shelter and services (EA, Line Item 7004- 0101): Unfortunately, the Conference Committee did not include the Senate’s language that would allow certain otherwise eligible families to access shelter before having to stay in a place not meant for human habitation. The committee also adopted the House’s lower funding recommendation of $155 million. 

Housing and wraparound support services for unaccompanied youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness (Line Item 4000-0007): Unfortunately, the Conference Committee included a compromise appropriation of only $675,000 for the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item ($635,000 for the general programs funded by the line item and an earmark of $40,000 for Y2Y Harvard Square). This dramatic decrease in funding from the $2 million FY’17 level will mean that many programs across the state will lose funding. Stay tuned for advocacy next steps for midyear supplemental funding.

Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, Line Item 7004-9024): The Conference Committee increased MRVP funding to $92.7 million, up from the FY'17 level of $86.5 million, but lower than the increase to $100 million that was included in both the House and Senate budgets.


** Please join the Coalition in asking Governor Charlie Baker to retain the RAFT language and funding increase, as well as the increased MRVP funding. Click here for the Governor's contact information. ** Read our letter to the Governor here.



Please also thank your State Representative and Senator for their work to support of the strongest possible budget for homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits programs. To find your legislators' contact information, please go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator

Related Conference Committee Materials:
If you have any feedback from the Governor's office or from your State Representative and Senator, please share it with us: kelly @mahomeless.org or call 781-595-7570 x17.

Thank you so much for your continued support and advocacy!

* The House conferees were Representative Brian Dempsey of Haverhill, Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; Representative Stephen Kulik of Worthington, Vice Chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means; and Representative Todd Smola of Warren, the Ranking Minority Member of the House Committee on Ways and Means. The Senate conferees were Senator Karen Spilka of Ashland, Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; Senator Sal DiDomenico of Everett, Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means; and Senator Vinny deMacedo, the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.