FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

FY'19 Budget Advocacy: Senate Amendments to Improve Homelessness Prevention, Housing, and Benefit Programs

May 14, 2018, last updated on May 16th

* Please sign our one-minute online action to your State Senator to increase cosponsorship on key amendments.*

As we posted last week, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means ("Senate Ways and Means" or "SWM") released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth on May 10th. Read about key highlights in our recent Senate budget release action alert

While the budget was strong, we are working with Senators who have filed several key amendments. Please ask your State Senator to cosponsor these amendments and actively support them in caucuses, conversations with Senate Leadership, and debates. Our overview sheet for Senators is here, our amendment action alert is here, and a sample script and more details are below.

- Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen filed Amendment #453 to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of only $92.80/month. Based on FY’18 numbers year-to-date, an estimated 542 individuals would benefit each month from this change, at a cost of only $1.4 million/year. The amendment would add language to line item 4408-1000. EAEDC amendment fact sheet

- Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT): We were thrilled to see that the SWM budget included the full recommended funding for RAFT of $18.5 million, as well as language to maintain access for elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth. We are working with Senator Jamie Eldridge, who filed Amendment #680 to tweak the language in line item 7004-9316 so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21, instead of no more than $3 million. RAFT amendment fact sheet

- Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L'Italien filed Amendment #533 to ensure that families with children that are experiencing homelessness can file in-person applications for family shelter with staff from the Department of Housing and Community Development in at least the ten cities and towns that had offices as of January 1, 2018. This is in response to efforts to shift to a more telephonically based system, which would present challenges to many families lacking access to phones, computers, scanners, and fax machines. The amendment would add language to the DHCD administrative line item, 7004-0099, to maintain in-person application sites (in addition to telephonic options.)EA amendment fact sheet

We also are working with partner agencies on additional homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments. Check back on this page soon for more details on other important Senate budget amendments, and see the complete list of amendments here. The full Senate will debate the budget starting on Tuesday, May 22nd.