Advocacy

FY 2017 (34)

FY 2016 (8)

FY 2015 (4)

Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness: Join Us for a State House Bill Hearing on August 22nd!

Stand Up with Families Experiencing Homelessness: Join Us for a State House Bill Hearing on August 22nd!

July 27, 2017


Please join us at the State House on Tuesday, August 22nd to show your support for House Bill 659, An Act to protect families experiencing homelessness from having to sleep in unsafe places. This bill was filed by Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge. Please see our bill fact sheet on this page.


The Joint Committee on Housing will be taking testimony that day on this and other bills related to the Department of Housing and Community Development and manufactured housing. The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., and will be held in Room B-2. The committee is chaired by Senator Joe Boncore and Representative Kevin Honan.

Please contact Kelly if you are able to provide in-person, written, and/or video testimony in support of the bill: kelly @mahomeless.org.

More details coming soon.places not meant for human habitation data fy 13 present





Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

Take Action to Help Override Governor Baker's Vetoes to Key Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Budget

July 17, 2017; last updated July 26th

Governor Charlie Baker just issued his FY'18 budget vetoes. Among the $320 million in vetoes were cuts to important language and funding related to homelessness, housing, and benefits programs. Fortunately, he does not have the final word. The Legislature can override his vetoes with 2/3 votes from both the House and Senate. Help make that happen by signing our one-minute online action to State Legislators.

What did he cut?

The Governor zeroed out the unaccompanied youth homelessness line item, 4000-0007, saying that the $675,000 appropriated by the Legislature was too small: "I am vetoing this item because it is too small to be effective at the enacted level of funding." (Fortunately, this veto did not cut the funding for the Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Commission and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. $150,000 will be provided for those initiatives through the Executive Office of Health and Human Services administrative line item-- even though there is no direct language/earmark.)

He also eliminated the $2 million increase to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316), and struck the language that would allow the program to keep serving unaccompanied youth, elders, people with disabilities, and other households without minor children.

In the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), the Governor reduced the annual children's clothing allowance from $300 to $250, and struck language requiring advanced notice before eligibility restrictions or benefits cuts are made. This is particularly concerning as the Governor is looking to count Supplemental Security Income when determining eligibility for TAFDC and render an estimated 5,800 families ineligible for TAFDC and/or have their grants reduced.

The Governor also eliminated language from the Department of Housing and Community Development administrative line item (line item 7004-0099) that allows families participating in the HomeBASE program (line item 7004-0108) to retain preferences and priorities for long-term state-funded subsidized housing opportunities.

In some good news, the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program, line item 7004-9024, increase to $92.7 million was approved.

We already started to push for veto overrides and will push for supplemental funding for programs that were vetoed. As noted above, the Legislature can restore language and funding by 2/3 votes in both the House and Senate. 


** Please sign our online action to State Legislators, asking them to override these vetoes swiftly. **

Please also join the Coalition in letting Governor Charlie Baker know that you are disappointed in his cuts to key programs like youth homelessness, RAFT, and TAFDC. Click here for the Governor's contact information. ** You also can call your legislators via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

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. Please stay tuned and engaged!


Related Budget Materials:

youth and raft veto override image to members 7 26 17








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


7 13 gov with hyperlink

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.








The Rental Arrearage and No Place Like Home Bills Are On the Move!

The Rental Arrearage and No Place Like Home Bills Are On the Move!

Posted July 14, 2017

Great news: Two of our homelessness prevention bills, House Bill 84 and House Bill 114, are on the move! H.84 is An Act to further provide a rental arrearage program, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker
and H. 114 is An Act to prevent homelessness among recipients of transitional assistance (a.k.a. the "No Place Like Home" bill), filed by Representative Denise Provost.

Special thanks to the lead sponsors and cosponsors, the Chairs of the Joint Committee on Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities, Representative Kay Khan and Senator Jennifer Flanagan, and to the full committee. Both bills have been sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

Please thank the Children, Families, and Persons with Disabilities Committee members, and let House Ways and Means know that you want to see these bills moved forward. Links to their contact information are above, and the State House switchboard number is 617-722-2000.

Thank you!

For more information, please contact Kelly: kelly @mahomeless.org.
Advocating for Homelessness and Housing Programs in the FY'18 Conference Committee Budget

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

June 1, 2017; last updated July 1st

Happy New Fiscal Year! Even though it is July 1st, the Conference Committee budget still has not been released. Stay tuned for further details next week. In the meantime, state government continues to fund services and programs through a temporary budget covering the month of July.

* Please sign our one-minute online action to your State Representative and Senator in support of key Conference Committee requests! *

House and Senate Leadership have named the six members of the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Conference Committee, who will be tasked with working out the differences between the House and Senate budget recommendations. (See their respective $40.8 billion recommendations here: House Bill 3601 and Senate Bill 2076.) The House conferees will be 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 will be 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 deMacedothe Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.

The conferees will meet throughout the month of June to move closer to finalizing the Legislature's recommendations for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Unfortunately, the conferees will be working with updated, lower consensus revenue estimates, which mean lower appropriations for many line items.

Please join the Coalition in asking your State Representative and Senator to weigh in with the conferees in support of the strongest possible budget for homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits programs. You also can advocate directly with the conferees. To find your legislators' contact information, please go to https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. The conferees' contact information is available by clicking on their names above.

Conference Committee Materials:
If you have any feedback 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!

FY18 Conference Committee Advocacy






Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Campaign to Establish a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness

Please Actively Support House Bill 695 and Senate Bill 46!

Last updated July 11, 2017

Great news! The House version of the bill of rights, House Bill 695, was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing on July 10, 2017. Now the bill heads to the House Committee on Ways and Means

Download the 2017-2018 legislative session bill fact sheet here here (updated 6-19-17).

Read the Coaliton's testimony from the June 20th hearing, as well as testimony for people experiencing homelessness, gathered last session: Sherry's testimonyCharlie's testimony, and shelter residents' testimony.

Add your organization as an official endorser of the campaign here.

Summary

An Act providing a homeless bill of rights (House Bill 695) and An Act creating a bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness (Senate Bill 46) would establish a definition of homelessness and protect key rights of all residents, whether or not they are experiencing homelessness. The bills are modeled after landmark legislation passed in 2012 in Rhode Island. Similar legislation has since passed in Connecticut and Illinois.

Bill Status

The bills were filed in January 2017 by lead sponsors Representative William Smitty Pignatelli and Senator Linda Dorcena Forry. House Bill 695 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Housing, and will be heard by the committee on June 20, 2017. Senate Bill 46 has been sent to the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities, and does not have a hearing date set yet. The bills are nearly identical to House Bill 1129 from the 2015-2016 session. That bill was reported out favorably by the Joint Committee on Housing in December 2015 and sent to the House Committee on Ways and Means. In spite of considerable support, the bill did not pass last session. We are hopeful that the momentum from last session and the pressing need to uphold human rights and dignity will propel the bills forward this session.

Why Is It Necessary to Create a Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness?

People experiencing homelessness often are subjected to discrimination and mistreatment based on their housing status. The bill of rights is a guide for state and local officials emphasizing that people experiencing homelessness are entitled to the same rights as any other resident of Massachusetts. The bill of rights seeks to outline those rights so as to prevent discrimination based on housing status. The legislation recognizes the increased prevalence of homelessness in Massachusetts due to widespread economic hardship, the insufficient availability of safe, affordable housing, and a weakened social safety net.

“No person’s rights, privileges, or access to public services may be denied or abridged solely because he or she is experiencing homelessness.”

The rights specifically included in the bill of rights are the right to move freely in public spaces, the right to equal treatment by municipal agencies (such as police departments), freedom from discrimination in employment, the right to emergency medical care, the right to register to vote and to vote, freedom from disclosure of records, and the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy of property.

The bill of rights for people experiencing homelessness seeks to have the rights outlined to be treated as a statement of legislative intent, as a guide for state and municipal agencies.

Click here for the legislative pages for the bill: House Bill 695 and Senate Bill 46.

List of Endorsing Organizations:

Allston Brighton Health Collaborative
American Friends Service Committee Material Aid & Advocacy Program
Arise for Social Justice
Boston Homeless Solidarity Committee
Boston Women's Fund
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
Central Massachusetts Housing Alliance
Children's League of Massachusetts
City Life Vida Urbana
City Mission Boston
Community Works
Emmanuel Church in the City of Boston
Family Promise MetroWest
First Baptist Church, Everett
First Church Shelter
Horizons for Homeless Children
Massachusetts Alliance of HUD Tenants
Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless
Massachusetts Housing and Shelter Alliance
My Brother's Table
New Bedford Homeless Advocates Inc.
Poor People's United Fund
Roca
Samaritans Steps, Inc.
ServiceNet, Inc.
Somerville Homeless Coalition
South Congregational Church
Spare Change News/Homeless Empowerment Project (HEP)
Tapestry Health
Women's Lunch Place
Y2Y Harvard Square

(List as of 6-21-17)

Protect the Rights of All Residents of Massachusetts, Regardless of Housing Status: Actively Support the Bill of Rights for People Experiencing Homelessness, House Bill 695/Senate Bill 46!


Thank Your State Senator for the Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Thank Your State Senator for the Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations


senate twitter thank you part 2

May 31, 2017


Here is a database of the key amendments, which Senators signed on, and their contact information. Please reach out to your State Senator today to thank them for their support of the key amendments and key priorities.  

Find out who your Senator is here, or call the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.

For more in depth coverage of the FY'18 Senate budget, please follow this link.

Thank you for all of your work thus far to make the FY'18 budget as strong as possible on homelessness, housing, and benefits issues!
The Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

The Senate's FY'18 Budget Recommendations

May 16, 2017; last updated May 30th

On May 16th, the Massachusetts Senate Committee on Ways and Means (SWM) released its version of the FY'18 state budget. We are thrilled to report that Senate Ways and Means has recommended:
  • A $5.5 million increase to the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition program (line item 7004-9316) to bring the funding to $18.5 million, the retention of language that will allow families of all configurations to access the program-- including elders, people with disabilities, and unaccompanied youth, and an earmark of up to $2 million to serve households without children under 21 (up from the FY'17 earmark of $500,000)
  • Language to ensure that families experiencing homelessness are able to access the Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA, line item 7004-0101) before being forced to stay in places not meant for human habitation
  • An increase in funding to serve unaccompanied youth and young adults experiencing homelessness to $2.5 million, up from the FY'17 funding level of $2 million and $2 million more than the House's recommended FY'18 funding level of $500,000 (line item 4000-0007)
  • An investment of $100 million in the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (MRVP, line item 7004-9024), a $13.5 million increase over the final FY'17 funding level so as to provide 350-400 new housing subsidies
  • An increase to HomeBASE benefits (line item 7004-0108) so that families can access up to $10,000 to be diverted from entering shelter or rehoused from Emergency Assistance shelter (up from the current $8,000/family cap) and language that would require the Department of Housing and Community Development to change their regulations so that families terminated from the program can access services again after 12 months, instead of the current 24-month bar
  • An increase to the Alternative Housing Voucher Program (line item 7004-9030) from $4.6 million to $5.5 million 
  • An increase to $300/child for the annual clothing allowance for children participating in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (line item 4403-2000)
Wow! We are so grateful to Senate President Stan Rosenberg, Senator Karen Spilka, Chair of Senate Ways and Means, and the full SWM Committee for their support of so many of the Coalition's key budget priorities. Our work continued through the amendment process. 

We worked with Senator Jason Lewis and Senator Julian Cyr on two youth homelessness amendments. Senator Lewis' amendment, Amendment #481, focused on increasing the unaccompanied youth homelessness funding to $4 million in line item 4000-0007, and Senator Cyr's amendment, Amendment #306, sought to add language and $150,000 in funding to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) line item, 4000-0300, to support the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. Amendment fact sheet.

Amendment outcomes: Unfortunately, Amendments #481 and #306 did not pass. We did, however, receive assurance from EOHHS that they intend to fund the work of the Commission at $150,000 for the year ahead, and we are working with them to develop a plan for allocating the funds for the Commission, the annual Youth Count, and a second year of hiring young people with lived experience of homelessness as consultants to the Commission. 

Senate youth homelessness amendment outreach

We also worked with Senator Tom McGee on an amendment to eliminate the homelessness penalty in the Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000), Amendment #323. Here is the amendment fact sheet

Amendment outcome: Unfortunately, this amendment was withdrawn after it was rejected (put in the "no" pile) behind the scenes.
eaedc senate amendment fact sheet 5 17 17 page 001
In addition, we worked with allied organizations and Senators on amendments to strengthen housing and benefits line items, including amendments to:
  • Further increase funding for the Massachusetts Rental Voucher Program (line item 7004-9024) to $120 million and allow participants to use the subsidies in units at the current fair market rents: Amendment #656, filed by Senator Joe Boncore. Amendment outcome: Withdrawn.
  • Strengthen tracking and reporting requirements for the Emergency Assistance family shelter program (line item 7004-0101)  to better understand who is served/not served by the EA program, and to allow families to retain EA benefits without triggering the 6-month time clock if they exceed the program's income limit of 115% of the federal poverty guidelines for fewer than 90 days: Amendment #720, filed by Senator Jason Lewis. Amendment outcome: Redrafted version was approved; the redraft included the tracking and reporting language.
  • Allow families that are in compliance with their rehousing plans to renew their HomeBASE (line item 7004-0108) subsidies for an additional 12 months and to further increase HomeBASE funding: Amendment #651, filed by Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. Amendment outcome: Rejected, but a related amendment reiterating Senate Ways and Means decrease in the period of ineligibility following a HomeBASE termination, Amendment #667, filed by Senator Vinny deMacedo, was included in the final Senate budget. (Under current practice, a family cannot access HomeBASE or EA benefits for 24 months following a HomeBASE termination. The Senate is recommending reducing the ineligibility period to 12 months.)
  • Eliminate the family cap rule in the Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children program (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000): Amendment #389, filed by Senator Joan Lovely. Amendment outcome: Rejected.
Here is a database of the key amendments, which Senators signed on, and their contact information. Please reach out to your State Senator today to thank them for their support of the key amendments and key priorities. (The link above can help you figure out who your Senator it, or you can call the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000.)

Now, we are waiting for the House and Senate to officially name the members of the FY'18 Budget Conference Committee. The Conference Committee will meet throughout June to work out the differences between the two budgets.

Thank you for taking action and for your ongoing commitment!

Amendment fact sheets:
Amendment Outcomes: Final House FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Amendment Outcomes: Final House FY'18 Budget Recommendations

Posted April 26th
This week, the Massachusetts House of Representatives debated House Bill 3600, their version of the 2018 state budget for the fiscal year that will begin on July 1st. Representatives filed 1,210 amendments to the House Committee on Ways and Means budget, which was released on April 10th.

Thank you for all of your calls, emails, visits, and completed online actions to Representatives in support of key homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments! The final budget that emerged late last night includes some important improvements as the budget process now heads over to the Senate for the next phase. While many key amendments were not included in the final House budget, the high levels of support for those items will strengthen the likelihood that they will appear in the Conference Committee and final FY'18 budgets.

Please check out our database of the main House amendments for which we advocated, and which House members were sponsors/cosponsors. If your Representative was a sponsor or cosponsor, please thank them today. You can call them via the State House switchboard: 617-722-2000, or look up their contact information via https://malegislature.gov/Search/FindMyLegislator. Check below to see if your Representative was a cosponsor on at least one key amendment and also is on Twitter, and then you can tweet your gratitude. (Twitter handles are listed alphabetically by last name of the House member.) 


twitter cosponsor 1
twitter for facebook
You also can thank Speaker Robert DeLeo (@SpeakerDeLeo, robert.deleo@mahouse.gov) and House Ways and Means Chair Brian Dempsey (brian.dempsey@mahouse.gov) for the positive elements of the House Ways and Means and final House budgets.

Key Amendment Outcomes:

Housing and Services for Unaccompanied Youth and Young Adults (line item 4000-0007): Good news! House leadership included language and partial funding from the unaccompanied youth homelessness amendments, Amendment #1088, filed by Representative Jim O'Day of West Boylston, and Amendment #378, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker of Cambridge. Consolidated Amendment F on Health and Human Services and Elder Affairs includes $540,000 for the line item. It would provide up to $500,000 for the housing and wraparound services for unaccompanied youth and young adults under the age of 25 and an earmark so that no less than $40,000 would go to the Y2Y Harvard Square shelter in Cambridge. For the current fiscal year, FY'17, the line item is funded at $2 million: $1 million in direct appropriations and $1 million carried over from unspent funds from FY'16. The House Ways & Means Committee initially proposed zero funding for the line item for next year, so $540,000 is an important step forward. See the unaccompanied youth amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth (within line item 4000-0300): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the youth commission amendment, Amendment #1013, in Consolidated Amendment F on Health and Human Services and Elder Affairs. Representative Jim O'Day had filed the amendment to add language and $150,000 in funding to the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) line item, 4000-0300, for the work of the Commission on Unaccompanied Homeless Youth and the annual Massachusetts Youth Count. While it is disappointing that the amendment was not adopted, EOHHS has indicated their intention to keep funding the Commission in FY'18. See the unaccompanied youth amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Residential Assistance for Families in Transition Program (RAFT, line item 7004-9316): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the RAFT amendment, Amendment #90, in Consolidated Amendment D on Housing, Mental Health, and Disability Services. The amendment, filed by Representative Marjorie Decker, sought to increase RAFT funds from $15 million to $18.5 million and maintain the FY'17 expanded eligibility language allowing households without children under 21 (such as elders, people with disabilities, unaccompanied youth, and other household types) to access RAFT homelessness prevention benefits. On a positive note, the HWM budget (and final House budget) would increase overall RAFT funding by $2 million, from $13 million to $15 million. See the RAFT amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Emergency Assistance (EA, line item 7004-0101): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the EA amendment, Amendment #85, in Consolidated Amendment D on Housing, Mental Health, and Disability Services. The amendment was filed by Representative Marjorie Decker. This means that the final House budget would maintain the current harmful Emergency Assistance 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 or for HomeBASE rehousing/stabilization resources (line item 7004-0108). See the general FY'18 EA campaign fact sheet and the EA amendment fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children Program (EAEDC, line item 4408-1000): House leadership did not include the language and funding from the EAEDC amendment, Amendment #1055, in Consolidated Amendment E on Social Services and Veterans. This means that the final House budget 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). Representative Jim O'Day filed the EAEDC amendment to promote dignity, fairness, and opportunity for participants experiencing homelessness. See the EAEDC homelessness penalty fact sheet (updated 4-21-17).

Outcomes for Other Important Amendments: 
    • Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program amendment (TAFDC, line item 4403-2000), Amendment #79: The final House budget does not include Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment to "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 #780The final House budget does not include Representative Mike Connolly's amendment, Amendment #382, to 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. It also does not include Representative Paul Donato's amendment, Amendment #780, to increase the proposed MRVP funding from $100 million to $120 million.
    • Alternative Housing Voucher Program amendment (AHVP, line item 7004-9030), Amendment #298: The final House budget includes partial funding from Representative Marjorie Decker's amendment. While the original amendment would have increased 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, the final House budget added $150,000 to bring the proposal to $5 million.
    • Emergency Assistance amendment (EA, line item 7004-0101), Amendment #344: The final House budget does not include Representative Aaron Vega's amendment that sought to strengthen the tracking and reporting requirements to better understand who is served/not served by the EA program, and to 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: The final House budget does not include Representative Christine Barber's amendment that sought to 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: The final House budget does not include Representative Kay Khan's amendment that would have reinstated this line item and provided $1 million for the work of the eight regional consortia established last year to coordinate on homelessness and housing issues.
    • Home and Healthy for Good (line item 7004-0104), Amendment #534: The final House budget includes Representative Byron Rushing's amendment to add $200,000 to the Home and Healthy for Good line item, which would increase funding for "housing first" resources for individuals experiencing chronic homelessness. The final House budget would provide $2.2 million for the program.

For background materials, please see the Coalition's House Ways and Means and House debate webpage, our April 13th action alertApril 21st action alert, and our April 24th handout to Representatives.

Thank you!

For more details, email Kelly at kelly @mahomeless.org. 

Important Hearing on Key Homelessness Prevention and Benefits Bills: Join Us on Tuesday, May 16th at the State House

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
Bill fact sheets and/or details available here. The hearing will take place in Hearing Room B-2, and will be led by the Committee's Chairs, Senator Jennifer Flanagan and Representative Kay KhanLearn more about the hearing on the Legislature's website, and more about the committee here.

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
Thank you for your commitment and action!

For more details, please email Kelly.
Massachusetts Youth Count 2017

Massachusetts Youth Count 2017

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.

This year's Youth Count will take place from Monday, May 1st - Sunday, May 14th. The English language survey can be downloaded here. Paper surveys in Spanish, Haitian Kreyol, Cape Verdean Creole, Khmer/Cambodian, and Brazilian Portuguese are ready to download, and an online version of the survey is at this Survey Monkey link: www.surveymonkey.com/r/massyouth.

*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:

youth count flyer 2017 general with web link

House Ways and Means Committee's FY'18 Budget Recommendations and the House Amendment Process

House Ways and Means Committee's FY'18 Budget Recommendations and the House Amendment Process

Posted April 10, 2017, last updated April 24th

** 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 #1055to 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.

Here is our April 13th action alert and April 21st action alert, as well as our April 24th handout to Representatives.

Thank you!

For more details, email Kelly at kelly @mahomeless.org. 

Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Join Us to Increase Access to Massachusetts Identification Cards for People Experiencing Homelessness

Obtaining a state identification card is a critical first step for youth and adults experiencing homelessness to accomplish typical life tasks and access opportunities. ID is required for a broad range of life activities, such as:

·         Applying for jobs

·         Enrolling in education programs

·         Getting a library card

·         Picking up a package from the post office

·         Opening financial accounts

·         Entering certain government buildings

·         Accessing services

·         Interacting with law enforcement

Join our campaign to pass legislation to eliminate fees and reduce barriers to accessing Massachusetts identification cards by people experiencing homelessness: An Act To Provide Identification to Homeless Youth and Families, filed by Senator Harriette Chandler (Senate Bill 1906) and Representative Kay Khan (House Bill 2737).

The fact sheet is linked here as a PDF and posted above. If your organization would like to become an official endorser of this campaign, please complete this form.

See related coverage on this issue from the Washington Post: "The invisibles: The cruel Catch-22 of being poor with no ID" (6-15-17).

For more information, please contact Kelly Turley at kelly @mahomeless.org. 
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 4-6-17


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 4-6-17)


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 4-5-17); 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. 

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
     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.
Legislative Action Day 2017 Press Release

Legislative Action Day 2017 Press Release

Speaking Out for Housing, Homelessness Prevention, and Solutions: Massachusetts Coalition for the Homeless and Representative Jim O’Day to Host Legislative Action Day Tomorrow at the State House

LAD press release 2 25 17 page 001



LAD press release 2 25 17 page 002

LAD press release 2 25 17 page 003