Last updated May 11th
Today, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means (“Senate Ways and Means” or “SWM”) released its fiscal year 2019 budget recommendations for the Commonwealth. The $41.42 billion budget was created under the leadership of Senate Ways and Means Chairwoman Karen Spilka and Senate President Harriette Chandler. Click here for a complete list of Senate Ways and Means members and committee staff.
The budget was very strong on homelessness prevention, housing, and benefits issues. Read about key highlights in our recent action alert.
Linked here and pasted below is our preliminary analysis of how key homelessness prevention, housing, emergency services, and benefits programs fared, as compared to our budget priorities.
While the budget was strong, we are working with Senators to file several key amendments:
– Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled, and Children program (EAEDC): Senator Pat Jehlen is filing an amendment to remove the EAEDC homelessness penalty so that participants experiencing homelessness receive full monthly grants of $303.70/month instead of $92.80/month.
-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 to tweak the language so that at least $3 million is set aside for households without children under the age of 21.
– Emergency Assistance family shelter program (EA): Senator Barbara L’Italien is filing an amendment to ensure that families 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.
We also are working with partner agencies on additional homelessness, housing, and benefits amendments. Check back on this page for more details on Senate budget amendments after the filing deadline of Monday, May 14th at noon. The full Senate will debate the budget starting on Tuesday, May 22nd.